§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill he now read a Second Time."
said, that in rising to move the Amendment of which he had given notice, he could, in the first place, assure the House that it was not as a mere matter of form or custom, but from a deep sense of his own inadequacy, that he ventured to solicit from hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House an indulgence, on which, as they were aware, he did not often trespass. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir C. Wood), on the occasion when he introduced the Bill which they were now discussing, certainly did not, either by the provisions of the measure itself, or by the statements with which he introduced and supported it, lay himself open to the charge of not having expressed his views upon every question relating to India with sufficient plainness and distinctness. The right hon. Gentleman went through, and reviewed certainly with great ability and ingenuity, the whole history of Indian administration in all its branches. Although, however, no one could feel more deeply than he (Lord Stanley) did the importance of interests involved in this subject, though he was not disposed in any manner to overrate its magnitude, yet he might relieve hon. Gentlemen from some apprehension they might entertain, by stating at the outset that it was not his intention, as it was not his duty, to follow the right hon. Gentleman through the greater part, or even through a considerable part, of the subjects on which he had thought it necessary to dilate. The Amendment of which he had given notice did not deal, and did not profess to deal, with the question which, sooner or later, they would have to solve— namely, how the future Government of India was to be carried on? He did not ask the House to pass any verdict retrospectively, either of censure or acquittal, on the administration of the East India Company—he did not ask the House, look- 606 ing to the present, to pledge itself to any approbation or commendation of that which was commonly, though rather vaguely, described as the system of double government: on the contrary, the whole scope and tendency of his proposition went to prove that it was not at this moment possible—or, at any rate, if possible, that it was not expedient or advisable—to come to a decision, either upon the one or the other of those subjects. He asked the House to affirm that now, towards the close of a protracted Session—that now, when the right hon. Gentleman's measure had not been so short a time before them that it was not possible that the public opinion of India could be obtained—that now, when the public opinion of England on this question of the Indian constitution could hardly said to be matured—above all, that now, when the Committees of that and the other House of Parliament, appointed, not merely to gather information and to collect evidence, but to report upon that evidence, and to give to the House and to the country the benefit of the conclusions to which they should come—that now, when those Committees had, not only not yet reported, hut even had not yet finished their inquiries—he only asked the House, he repeated, to affirm that under these circumstances, it was not expedient —it was not advisable—it was, in fact, hardly possible—to legislate for the permanent government of India. First, as to the question of time, hon. Gentlemen would recollect that the present Parliament had met at a period cosiderably earlier than usual—that they had met in the first days of November last—that they sat for a period of rather more than six weeks—that they adjourned over the Christmas holidays, and assembled again in February—and that from February to that time they had sat almost continuously; and now, at the close of the month of June, they were entering upon the discussion of one of the largest and most important measures which during the last twenty years—he might almost say during the last half century—had been submitted to that House. Of course, in taking that line of argument, he laid himself open to an objection which he easily perceived. It might easily be said that as the question was of such first-rate importance, and one in which the country was so deeply interested, it would be no great sacrifice on the part of Parliament to postpone their usual time of adjournment, and to sit some time longer than usual in order to dispose of it; 607 but he would say that, considering that both Houses had now been sitting since the month of November—considering that by the 10th or 11th of August next there would have been a nine months' sitting, with a small interval—it was not reasonable to expect—it was not probable that the House would consent to continue its sittings further into the approaching autumn, even if that were desirable; and he certainly could not conceive anything more inconvenient, not only as regarded the conduct of the public administration, but themselves personally—he could not conceive anything more calculated to injure the legislation of the House, than if they were to sit almost permanently, from year's end to year's end, having a very short interval to look back on what they had done, and to consider and mature their measures for the future. He thought, therefore, it was neither likely nor desirable that the present Session should be protracted until the close of August, and that would allow for the discussion of this Indian question a period of about six weeks. That would not be a very long period to devote to that question, even if the House had no other subject to occupy its attention. So far from this, however, being the case, when he looked to the notice paper of that very day, he saw no less than twenty-eight Orders; and they had a vast amount of business before them—business, it might be, not of first-rate importance, and which they could afford to postpone, but still it was business which, at the close of the Session, generally kept them sitting within those walls for a period of twelve hours a day during four days of the week. He had looked back to their Parliamentary annals for some years past; and ascertained the time which Parliament or the Government of the day had thought fit to allot to some of the great questions which had been introduced into and discussed by the Legislature. He would begin with the Reform Bill; and, without saying anything of the time occupied with the Scotch and Irish Reform Bills, would merely refer to the time that was occupied by the English Reform Bill alone. That Bill was introduced into the House on the 12th December, 1831; it was read a second time on the 22nd March, 1832, and came down from the House of Lords on the 5th of June; the discussion occupying altogether a period of six months. It might be said, perhaps, that the Reform Bill was not a measure of ordinary importance, but was one which affected the interests of a large 608 number of the people of this country; but he (Lord Stanley) apprehended that the question they were now discussing was one that affected quite as deeply the interests of a much larger number of people. He had referred to the measure for negro emancipation—a large, a most important measure—and he found that the Bill was introduced into the House early in May, remained for more than three months in this House alone, and did not finally pass until the end of the Session. He had taken the Bill for the repeal of the corn laws—and when was that measure brought forward? The statement of Sir Robert Peel was made so early as the 27th of January; the Bill was read a third time in that House on the 15th of May, and it was read a third time in the House of Lords on the 25th of June; occupying altogether a period exceeding five months. He took the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill of the year before last; that measure was introduced by the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Russell) on the 7th of February, 1851, but did not pass the two Houses until near the close of the Parliamentary Session. These cases verified, he thought, what he had affirmed, that there was no instance within the memory of any of them of a measure of such magnitude and importance as that of the right hon. Gentleman being brought forward at such a period of the year, and an attempt made to pass it through Parliament so precipitately. But, moreover, on every one of the measures to which he had alluded as precedents and parallels for guidance, the opinion of the country had to a great extent been formed; but that was not the case with regard to the measure now before the House. If they looked back to their former legislation with regard to India, he apprehended they would find that a much longer period had been allowed for deliberation on all former occasions than it was proposed to allow now. If ever there was an occasion when the House was overloaded with business, it was in the year 1833—if ever there was a period when the hasty passing of a measure with regard to India would have been justifiable or excusable, that was the time. The House was overladen with business. In 1833 there was every excuse for passing the measure for the renewal of the Charter with more than ordinary rapidity; yet in 1833 how was the Indian question dealt with? A Committee had been moved for and appointed in February, 1831—three years before the expiration of the Charter, and fourteen 609 months earlier, in proportion, than the nomination of the Committee that was appointed in the beginning of last year. That Committee was reappointed in January, 1832, and closed its sittings, and reported, in August, 1832; and a full year was allowed to Parliament for the consideration of that report; the plan of the Government was proposed to the Directors in February, 1833; by the Court of Directors and by the proprietors it was accepted, and, so far as they were concerned, was unopposed; and thus, coming before Parliament in the form of an unopposed measure, it was introduced into the House of Commons in the middle of the Session, and was passed the same year. Although the change then introduced was undoubtedly less extensive than that which the right hon. Gentleman proposed, and although the time at which the measures were brought before Parliament was nearly the same, yet at least one year more was given for the consideration of the measure than was allowed now. In the year 1813, when the changes introduced for the government of India were less considerable than those which the right hon. Gentleman now introduced, he (Lord Stanley) found that the Ministerial statement was made in the month of March, evidence was taken, not before a Select Committee, as was now clone, but before a Committee of the whole House—a mode of proceeding which was now impossible, and which might be inconvenient, but a mode of proceeding that had the effect of enabling hon. Gentlemen in general to become much better acquainted with the evidence than they were likely to be now; and after the evidence had been taken, and the statement had been made early in spring, the measure did not pass until the close of the Session. He would not weary the House with details, but, looking so far back as the year 1783, when the great organic change was made in regard to the government of India, he found that Mr. Fox's measure for the government of India was proposed on the 18th November. A change of Government took place, and Mr. Pitt's Bill was proposed on the 14th January, 1784, and that measure was ultimately carried in the autumn of the same year, the measure having been eight months before the Legislature. It should be also recollected that the measure had been preceded by the sitting of a Parliamentary Committee, which carried on its inquiries for upwards of two years. Having referred to those cases, he thought 610 he was entitled to say that it was unusua and unprecedented to introduce a measure like that of the right hon. Gentleman at the present time of the year. He said, also, that it was not desirable that such a Bill as this should pass without an opportunity being given to show the public opinion of India. He would admit at once, when he spoke of the public opinion of India, that he was not referring to the public opinion of the Natives. He should attach great value to the evidence and opinions of the Natives of India on every question of local grievance or local administration; but when they were dealing with constitutional changes in the Government of that country, he would not dwell much upon the importance of getting the evidence of the Natives who might be inclined to give their evidence. When, however, a measure of this kind was proposed, which deeply affected the interests of between 6,000 and 7,000 Europeans in the civil and military service in India, some of them men who had passed many years in India, most of them men whose attention had been necessarily drawn to the subject, if there was no strong reason against it, it certainly appeared to him to be wilfully giving up a great advantage if they did not procure the opinions of classes whose evidence and suggestions might be exceedingly valuable. The House must remember that the number of those men who came over to this country was necessarily comparatively small. When they introduced any Bill affecting local administration in this country—for instance, a Bill relating to the poor-laws or county rates— it was generally their first object to print that Bill, and circulate it among the classes concerned, so that its provisions should be made known as far as possible, and in that way a public opinion concerning it, which might be a material check to the Legislature, was collected. He had stated that he regarded public opinion in England as hardly matured as to the best mode of legislating for India. If he might describe what he believed to be the state of public opinion in this country, he should say that there was a very general feeling of dissatisfaction at the manner in which the affairs of India had been administered—there was a very general feeling that some change was desirable, if not necessary—but there was a general ignorance, or rather indecision, as to what the exact nature of the change required. That was the state of public opinion, he believed, at present, and that was what he meant when he said that 611 public opinion was hardly matured for legislation. With regard to the labours of the Committees of both Houses of Parliament, it was unnecessary to dwell upon the disadvantage of legislating until they received their reports. He had heard it urged that, although the Committees had not closed their sittings, or concluded their labours, still that they had taken and had before them all the evidence which related to the constitution of what might be called the Home Government of India—that that might be detached from the rest of the question—and that it was quite possible to regenerate the Indian constitution for the government of the people of that country, though they had obtained no information as to the working of that constitution amongst them for years past. He did not see how they were to judge of the mode in which the affairs of India would be best administered, except by profiting by the experience of past years. If they wanted to know whether it was necessary to make a change—and if so, what that change should be—in the constitution of the Indian Government, it was indispensable to ascertain, in the first place, what had been the working of that Government in India. He did not conceive how they were to judge of a Government otherwise than by its measures. They judged of a tree by its fruit, and they judged of an administration by the effect which it produced amongst the people whoso affairs it administered. He had heard it said, though not in that House, that the East India Company were now placed on their trial. He admitted the fact, that they had placed the East India Company on their trial; and what the right hon. Gentleman proposed now to do was this— having received a portion of the evidence, he interrupted the proceedings, and called upon the Legislature now, without further investigation, at once to bring in their verdict. He thought, even in the few words he had uttered, that he had made out a primâ facie case for postponement, unless strong arguments could be shown on the other side for immediate legislation. He, and those who thought with him, were often met with the assertion, supported, it was true, by some high authorities, but not by a great deal of evidence or argument, that any delay in giving a permanent government to India would he productive of injury. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir Charles Wood) had quoted the high authority of the Governor General of India, Lord Dalhousie; and he 612 (Lord Stanley) would be the last person to detract from or to attempt to invalidate the weight of the evidence of that noble Marquess, for India had very seldom seen a more able or a more indefatigable administrator. Certainly, to any of his opinions, deliberately offered and calmly expressed, upon a subject with which he was necessarily well acquainted, he would be inclined to pay all proper deference; but without meaning to argue that the right hon. Gentleman, in quoting the opinion of the Governor General, without communicating the letter on which it was founded, was not fairly representing the opinion of Lord Dalhousie, it was quite possible that the right hon. Gentleman had put a leading question to the Governor General and so had got the answer he wanted— [Sir CHARLES WOOD: NO, no!] The right hon. Gentleman said, "No;" but if Lord Dalhousie merely said, that if they had a measure ready, the sooner they legislated the better, that was a point on which there was no difference of opinion in that House or out of it. The question was, whether they should legislate now, under the circumstances he had mentioned, and towards the close of the Session, or whether they should take time to deliberate, and postpone legislation for one or two years. There being a balance of opinion, the question was, which of these courses would be the least injurious. The East India Company were in favour of immediate legislation; but they were not impartial witnesses. Lord Ellenborough, some time ago, expressed an opinion that the question was ripe for legislation during the present Session. He was inclined to attach great weight to the authority of that noble Earl, who had been formerly Governor General of India; and if that noble Earl had painted in strong colours the danger of postponing legislation, he would certainly have acknowledged the great weight of that authority; but he did not find, when he came to look at Lord Ellenborough's opinion after he had become acquanted with the Government measure, that, on the whole, he was in favour of the present measure in preference to a postponement. Although the noble Earl announced in his place that he was desirous of immediate legislation, which was quite a natural conclusion for the noble Earl to come to, considering the position he had occupied with respect to India, nevertheless, the noble Earl expressly declared, at the same time, that the measure proposed by 613 the right hon. Gentleman opposite, was one which, in his opinion, was more calculated to produce agitation than to allay it. He (Lord Stanley) had heard of a somewhat singular argument employed by a distinguished Member of the Government in another place, namely, that as to waiting until they had full information on the subject, to master any one head of Indian inquiry would require a period, not of months, or of weeks, but of years. He (Lord Stanley) thought that argument, founded on such a statement, was ridiculous. And was it to be said, that because they could not obtain accurate and complete information on the whole question, they, were therefore to dispense with information altogether. But, passing from that question, he would ask, what were the arguments urged with regard to the supposed danger of suspending legislation? They were told that they were likely to have an agitation in India. Did that mean an insurrection—did it mean an agitation by physical force? If that was really the meaning of the argument, he believed that a more baseless apprehension never disturbed the mind of man. Let them look back to all their former history connected with the legislation of India. He believed there was not a single instance on record of a disturbance taking place in India, whilst the Legislature at home was discussing a question of this kind, unless they excepted a military disturbance in Madras, which took place in the beginning of the present century. Look at the periods when the Acts of Parliament relating to the Government of India had been discussed. From 1783, downward, they had frequently put the Government of India on its trial; they had said over and over again that it should be submitted to Parliament to decide whether the present form of government should continue or not. That was just as well known to the natives of India in 1783, or in 1813, or 1833, as it was known that that House was doing the same thing now. But he need not go back to 1783, or to 1813, because during the last two years it had been perfectly well known in India that within a very limited period a proposition would be submitted to Parliament with the view to change the existing form of government. He would ask if any disturbance which was the result of that knowledge had taken place in India within that period? He did not believe there was Any one conversant with India who enter- 614 tained any apprehension of an interruption of the peace of that country. There was on the contrary, every reason why no such insurrection or disturbance should take place; the immense military force we had I in India, the unwarlike habits of the people, the want of any distinguishing Indian nationality, the differences, jealousies and; want of confidence between the Mahoniedans and the Hindoos, all prevented them from combining against the Europeans. The House must recollect that the result of the whole policy pursued by the East India Company had been to take away, as far as possible, the number of eminent, influential, and wealthy men among the natives; so that if there were any inclination to disturbance, there was not one leader in the country whom any great proportion of the population would be disposed to follow. Besides, they had a great number of distinct races, between whom little or no sympathy existed, and between some of whom absolute feelings of hostility existed; and the House had all the experience of the past that such a movement as was suggested had never occurred. It did not seem to him very reasonable to suppose that the same people and the same races who had seen their native rulers overthrown and their native governments destroyed, and who had passed under English sway almost without a murmur—merely because the Legislature was about to make a change, of which it was highly probable that the great mass of the people of India would know nothing, even when it had taken place—it did not seem to him reasonable to think that the Native races would consider that a sufficient pretext for anything like an insurrectionary movement in India. Again, it might be said, that although there might be no physical-force agitation, yet there was danger of an agitation in India of a similar character to that which we occasionally had in India in times of excitement. But he contended that such a thing was totally repugnant to all the feelings and habits of the Natives of India. Even if a large number of petitions and representations of local grievances was poured into that House—even if the Natives did begin to find out that they wanted schools and roads, and the remission of taxation, he confessed he did not, from an agitation of that kind, apprehend any very serious results; on the contrary, if the people of India could be got to take a little more interest in their own affairs he did not believe it would either injure the 615 stability of the Indian Government, or be likely to tend to disturbances. Such a movement would, in his opinion, very materially tend to assist in carrying out the administration of that country. He repeated, he certainly could not understand what was meant by saying there was danger of an agitation in India, merely because it was known there that the Legislature of this country was ready to provide a remedy for their grievances. He should imagine, if anything would tend to repress all attempts at agitation by physical force, it would be the knowledge that, whatever wrongs they might suffer, or believed they suffered, they had a constitutional, peaceable, and accessible remedy, and that that House was ready to take their case into consideration. He could not, then, understand upon what ground such an agitation was apprehended by those who supported the measure of the Government. But then it was said, if Parliament suspended the Government of India, and if the present state were believed to be only provisional, the principle of authority in India would be weakened. But he would ask if the Bill itself of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control did not bear the impress of provisional legislation? The right hon. Gentleman, at all events, had produced a measure which he said was to be regarded as an experiment, and which could be amended if it did not work well. But surely the result of that was to suspend legislation, and to produce a provisional state of things for an almost indefinite period, instead of, at the most, for one or two years, as he (Lord Stanley) proposed. He did not know how that argument could be used by those who supported, far less by those who introduced, a measure of this kind. As regarded the actual administration of affairs in India, what would be the result of putting the Company on its trial for a little time longer? He believed it would be simply this: That all persons employed under the existing Government would work under an increased sense of responsibility, and with increased activity in the endeavour to set their house in order, knowing that this question would again shortly come under the consideration of Parliament. It was generally said in India that more local reforms and improvements were effected in the two or three years which preceded the expiration of the Charter, than in the whole previous period of its duration. That he believed to be literally the case. There seemed every 616 probability in its favour; and it was not going too far to anticipate that a similar beneficial result would flow from the suspension of permanent legislation for a given period. He might now be excused for noticing a kind of taunt that had been thrown out against the late Government, in reference to this question, in another place. He understood it had been said there that although hon. Members on that—the Opposition—side of the House were now proposing to suspend permanent legislation, yet that it was the intention of the late Government to have legislated immediately. He begged to say, most distinctly, that that allegation was utterly unfounded. He had looked back to see what had been the language held by the leaders of the late Government at the time when the Parliamentary Committee on Indian Affairs was appointed, but he had found nothing in that language to justify the taunt to which he had referred; on the contrary, he found the following words used by the head of the late Government, in the House of Lords, on the 2nd of April, last year:—By the Reports of the Committees of this and the other House of Parliament, Her Majesty's Government are ready to be guided in the course they will pursue; and to those Committees must be deputed the important task of considering how the affairs of India shall hereafter be best conducted.On the 19th of April, Mr. Herries, in that House, in moving for the appointment of a Committee, said—There was one of three courses to be pursued by Parliament and by the Government of the country for the time being. One was to suffer the Act to expire; another, to propose to Parliament the renewal of the Act without further inquiry; the third was to propose, as was now proposed, a Committee of Inquiry preliminary to the determination whether or not the Act of 1833 should be continued. Her Majesty's late Government resolved to adopt the course of submitting the subject to Committees of both Houses of Parliament, and, after most mature reflection, Her Majesty's present Government had also come to the judgment that such would be the course most becoming the importance of the subject, and also most befitting the respect which, on so great a subject, it was becoming in them to pay to the opinion of Parliament.From these extracts it was evident that the late Government expressly declared their intention to legislate on the reports of the Parliamentary Committees; and he was not aware that anything had occurred at any time to justify the statement that the late Government had intended to legislate previously to receiving their reports. One word with regard to the form of the 617 Motion he was about to submit to the House. The words of that Motion were—"That in the opinion of this House further information is necessary to enable Parliament to legislate with advantage for the permanent government of India; and that, at this late period of the Session, it is expedient to proceed with a measure which, while it disturbs existing arrangements, cannot be considered as a final settlement." Of course, that Amendment was open to the objection that it was necessary to legislate in some form or other before the present Act expired. He wished it to be understood, therefore, that though it was not mentioned in the Amendment, he assumed the passing of a Continuance Act for a limited period of time. It now became his duty to offer one or two remarks on the measure itself of the right hon. Gentleman. That measure contained a variety of details. It contained many provisions to which, at present, he (Lord Stanley) had no desire to offer any objection; but it contained one or two others which he thought exceedingly objectionable. There were one or two very important changes which would greatly affect the character of the Indian population. He meant the addition of Legislative Councillors to the Council of India; that was a provision, however, on which he did not propose on this occasion to offer an opinion. There was also the appointment of a law commission. He named those measures as those to which he did not, on any ground of principle, entertain any objection, and which they would have an opportunity of considering in detail. But he would call the attention of the House to the three main provisions of the Bill, namely, the nonrenewal of the Charter for a fixed period; secondly, the change in the mode of distributing patronage; and, thirdly, the change in the constitution of the Court of Directors. There were some persons who, though not approving of the Government measure generally, were nevertheless disposed to accept it in the nature of an experiment. That, however, was not his view of the present question. Looking at all the circumstances of India, he must confess he thought that, instead of proposing a measure so obviously experimental that it was left open to alteration from year to year, it would have been much preferable if the Government had come forward with a well-considered plan, and said, "Here is a constitution for India; be it good or be it bad, let it have a fair trial." 618 He said he thought it would be better to pass their measure, whatever it was, for a certain fixed period; and his principal reason for that was, that he apprehended it was only occasionally—and the occasions were very rare, that such a great amount of public attention as at present was directed in this country to Indian affairs. Domestic questions of an important nature might claim attention in succeeding Sessions, and when the House and the country were engaged in discussing them, the affairs of India would excite only secondary interest; and he thought there was something in the knowledge that they must legislate at a particular time which tended to concentrate a greater amount of attention on Indian affairs than they would otherwise engage. The President of the Board of Control had dwelt much on the question of patronage. Now, in reference to this subject, certainly the Directors of the East India Company had been subject to a great deal of criticism and censure for the manner in which they had exercised their office. In that censure he, for one, did not agree. He believed the patronage of the Company had been better distributed than might have been anticipated—that was to say, the men were better than the system; but he thought the system which placed so large an amount of patronage in private hands, under the circumstances in which it was placed in those hands, was not calculated to promote the interest of the public service. They gave to a Director a sum perfectly inadequate as a remuneration for the services he had to perform. Those services were performed in private; they were not brought before the public eye; he was not paid in fame or reputation; he was not paid in pecuniary emolument; but it was said he was paid in patronage. The necessary inference from that was, that the patronage was not to be entirely for the public benefit. If a Director was merely to act as a judge between the conflicting claims of candidates for public employment, that was certainly a laborious and an invidious office. When they threw on such a person the discharge of a somewhat laborious office, at a salary not higher than was paid to a head clerk in any of the public offices, and placed a considerable amount of patronage in his hands, he (Lord Stanley) thought that was a system which, without meaning to throw the slightest blame on individuals, implied that he was allowed a large discretion in the distribution of that patron- 619 age for private purposes. He apprehended that so long, under those circumstances, as that system, or anything like it, was maintained, they would find that the patronage would he employed in the way he had mentioned, and they would not find that such employment of it was sanctioned by public opinion. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control concurred with him in condemning a system which left so large an amount of patronage in private hands; and when listening to the right hon. Gentleman's language he supposed that he was about either to abolish the system, or greatly to modify it. When, however, he came to look at the right hon. Gentleman's project, and to compare it with the existing system, the reform proposed appeared to be absolutely disproportionate to the flourish of language employed to introduce it. He found on an average of eighteen years past the Directors had annually in their gift 286 military and 35 civil appointments; and under the existing system the patronage was divided among 24 Directors. One civil appointment was worth, in pecuniary value, as much as three military appointments. If for the convenience of calculation they turned them into the value of military appointments, the House would find that every Director had, at present, at his disposal ten and a fraction military appointments, and only one civil one. By the new system, instead of twenty-four Directors being in office at a time, they would have eighteen, and therefore the patronage would be divided, not, as before, among twenty-four, but among eighteen; and he calculated that, under the new system, thirteen cadetships would remain to each Director, whereas, under the old system, he had fourteen. Now, really, if this were all the reform the Government effected, they might as well have left the system alone. If the system were good, why meddle with it? If bad, why stop at this petty change? In this respect the Government plan was not reformatory, for it left the abuse untouched; it was not conservative, for it condemned what it continued. Then, with regard to the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to deal with the civil patronage, he had introduced a principle unknown in this country, but which was said to prevail in China, and therefore it might be called the Chinese principle, namely, that of unlimited intellectual competition for admission to civil offices. He did not for a moment deny that the intro- 620 duction of such a system was an improvement upon the present one. He believed it was infinitely preferable that those appointments should be reserved for persons who by their intellectual merits were more capable of filling them with credit than others. He approved of that principle; but though he was far from condemning the experiment, still he could not help thinking the right hon. Gentleman would find some practical difficulties in carrying out such a plan in detail. In the first place, the competition was open to all England. He did not know exactly the number of applications that had generally been made for civil appointments; but if it was anything like the number of applications which all persons received for situations of infinitely less importance, he apprehended that the number would be much greater than the right hon. Gentleman seemed to anticipate. There would also be a practical difficulty in submitting to a proper examination such an enormous and unwieldy number of persons. In the next place, it was an objectionable thing to make a man's fortune in life depend upon his proficiency at an early age. The precocious efforts of youth were not a sure test of future ability in the man; and he thought the principle proposed with respect to examinations by the right hon. Gentleman was rather exclusive in refusing admission to civil offices to all those, however highly qualified for it, who had not taken the initiatory steps at an early period of life. Upon the whole, however, he thought the proposed principle of intellectual competition was so infinitely better than the present system of distributing patronage, that he was not willing to find fault with the details of that part of the measure. The principle of unrestricted competition was good; but if acted on rigidly they were running some risk of flooding India with over-educated mediocrity. If the principle of competition was adhered to, he would suggest that it would be advisable to distribute some part of that patronage among the principal educational establishments of the country, instead of leaving it to depend on any peculiar form of education, the nature of which they did not know. He thought by doing so they would have an equal opportunity of getting as large a number of educated and efficient men. It was also a question whether some part of the patronage which they proposed to give to competition might not be advantageously retained for distribution by the Government; he did not mean iudiscrimi- 621 nate distribution, and certainly not for any political influence—but for distribution among the sons of those who had distinguished themselves as civil or military servants of India. That would certainly be cheap, and he thought it would be exceedingly valuable to a class of men, many of whom at present lived in England in by no means wealthy circumstances, and than whom there existed none more laborious or indefatigable. He came now to the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to deal with the Home Government. He (Lord Stanley) did not think it necessary to dwell upon the somewhat curious and complicated machinery by which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to carry out his plan. He took that plan as it would be when it came into full operation. That question necessarily led them to the consideration of the general question of a double or a single government. Whatever was said against the double government as at present existing, he did not believe he had ever heard any scheme proposed for the government of India which did not, to a certain extent, contain the principle of a double government, but not necessarily of double responsibility. The right hon. Gentleman proposed the establishment of an intermediate council. But if the Legislative Council which the right hon. Gentleman proposed, was to be anything corresponding with the Council in India, which he (Lord Stanley) believed was the plan proposed, they must give to the members of that Council the power of recording their opinions, and a control, to a certain extent, over the Minister; and in the same proportion as they allowed them to control the Minister, they would be introducing the principle of a double government. The real question at issue with reference to the Home Government was, not whether there was to be a double or a single government, but what the double government ought to be, and in what manner it was possible to give the greatest effect to its control over the affairs of India. Looking to the plan of the right hon. Baronet, it did not appear well devised for the purpose of giving efficiency to the system of double government. Whether such a government was a right one to adopt or not, was a question upon which it was not his intention then to express any opinion; but if there was one thing which more than another was required in that body, it was that those who composed it should possess 622 absolute independence of the Government of the day. Now, what was the plan of the right hon. Baronet? He took the existing body of Directors, reduced their numbers, and added to them one-third who were to be nominees of the Crown, who would be allowed to have seats in the House of Commons, and it was absolutely impossible that such persons should not be, in some degree, under the influence of the Minister of the day. He was not about to ask the House to pledge itself by any opinion as to what should be the nature of the government henceforth to be adopted for India, but he had no hesitation in saying that if they were anxious to avoid a continued agitation, or to introduce any change or reform, those reforms could only completely deserve the name which dealt effectively with- the Court of Proprietors. A great deal, no doubt, was to be said on behalf of the double government, consisting of the Board of Directors and of the Board of Control; but he had never heard a single argument adduced in defence of the maintenance of the existing Court of Proprietors. That body had no acquaintance with Indian affairs, took no particular interest in Indian affairs, exercised no control over the Directors who were elected by them, and possessed no responsibility whatever. He held, therefore, that any measure which maintained the Court of Proprietors on their present footing was not likely to benefit the people of India. Now, the measure proposed left this Court in precisely the same state as at present, with the exception of the introduction of some by-laws, the object of which was to do away with canvassing for Directors. He had no doubt, from all that he had heard on the subject of the canvass for the office of Director as now carried on, that the system tended greatly to keep good and useful men out of the Direction. There was no other mode of putting a stop to the practice than the simple expedient of prohibiting it by law; but the by-law which the right hon. Gentleman proposed prohibited any proprietor canvassing or soliciting votes on behalf of himself or of any other person, under a penalty of 100l. The sole result of this prohibition would be, that it would prove fruitless—that it would answer no practical purpose. Any one not a proprietor might canvass. What did this distinction mean? In future, a Director must not employ a proprietor to canvass for him, but he might employ any one else. Then 623 what was meant by forbidding solicitation? They might as well pass a law that no man should ask an appointment from Government. Could they make it penal for one man to ask another, "Will you vote for me?" They might depend upon it that, so long as a large amount of valuable patronage was left in the hands of the Directors, any Act passed for preventing canvassing would be a perfectly nugatory enactment. Take away the patronage, and then all such bargaining would cease. He would pass over many matters of detail to which he might have adverted; but he wished to point out to the House that the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman, as he understood it, did not do away with the great abuses so much complained of—that it was not a measure of reform, dealing with any of those abuses of which so much complaint had been made; nor was it simply a measure of continuance, retaining the existing system upon its present footing. So far from removing the evils complained of, the measure tended, as far as he could see, to aggravate them; and the Directors would be deprived of that independence which they now professed to have, and rendered more dependent upon the Board of Control. He would not at this stage of the discussion, dwell on what was certainly a subject of vast importance—the past administration of India. The right hon. Baronet, in introducing his measure, took occasion to review the whole system of the Company's administration in India, complimented it on its administration in a highly flattering manner, and lauded the results as being of a highly beneficial character. He (Lord Stanley) did not complain that the right hon. Baronet, as the organ of the Indian Government, should have felt a desire to do all the justice in his power to the Government of India, or to place its administration in as favourable a light as possible. His words would, no doubt, astonish India; still he was bound to make the best of the case. But he must say that he was not inclined on all points to accept the statements of the right hon. Gentleman with reference to the Company's transactions in India. He was not an alarmist—he believed that there was not a territory in the world which was so absolutely safe from all danger of invasion as India. The entire line of frontier was all defensible, and there was but one single passage through Aff-ghanistan by which it was possible for an invading army to penetrate. We were, 624 therefore, as the experience of the past had proved, perfectly safe on that head; but, at the same time, there were some facts and circumstances connected with Indian administration that called for the careful consideration of that House. Of the nineteen years that had elapsed since the last renewal of the Charter, not fewer than fifteen had been passed in war; and that whereas while in other countries the normal condition during that period had been that of peace in India, from whatever cause it might be, the normal state had been that of war. Were those wars necessary? He would not go into every case—into those of Nepaul, Affghanistan, Siam, &c.—nor would he follow up the history of our wars in India. He had often heard it asserted that the policy in India had at all times been a defensive and not an offensive one: those, however, who entertained that opinion read history in a very different manner from that in which he, read it. He was ready to admit, for argument's sake, that the Government of India had not unnecessarily brought on the recent wars in that country; but every one of them might be, either directly or indirectly, charged upon the policy of the Indian Government. That Government chose to interfere in the internal affairs of States with which it had infinitely less to do than with the affairs now going on in China; and, in defiance of every rule of justice and morality, its policy had been essentially aggressive. He had heard hundreds of times, from persons who had the best opportunities of judging, that there was scarcely a Native prince, or an intelligent Native of India, who had reflected on matters of public policy, who did not believe that the object and ambition of the Government of India was territorial aggrandisement in India. He was not justifying them in that opinion, but there could be no doubt that it was the view entertained of our policy in India. It was impossible not to perceive that the recent wars had been the result of that great blunder and great crime, the invasion of Affghanistan. Now, without going into the history of these wars, it was impossible not to perceive that, connected with them, and with the increase of territory to which they led, was a great increase of debt and difficulty on the part of the Company. The question of war brought him to the kindred subject of finance. Now, with reference to the financial condition of India, he thought that the right 625 hon. Baronet the President of the Board of Control had passed somewhat lightly over that subject; and he was right. Anything more unsatisfactory than the state of Indian finances was never submitted to the English public. During the fourteen years from 1.838 to 1850, both years inclusive, every year except 1849 and 1850 had shown a deficit. The total deficit during these years was 13,500,000l., and since the renewal of the Charter in 1833, not less than 20,000,000l. had been added to the debt. It might be said that this sum was insignificant when compared with the public debt of this country. True; but there was an immense difference in the resources of the two countries, and the facility of raising revenue. In this country it would not be difficult, in any case of emergency, to double the revenue, while in India the pressure of taxation had reached to its limit; and they would fail if they attempted to raise the revenue twenty per cent. But it might be said, after all, look how the revenue of India had increased of late years. There was no doubt that, with the addition of Scinde and the Punjaub, a much larger amount of revenue was derived from India than before those possessions were added to the British territories. The question, however, was, whether the Government derived a larger proportionate amount than it did before these possessions were obtained. Even if the revenue of India had increased 7,000,000l., as had been stated, it would not be difficult to show that from such profitable possessions the Government had not derived an amount of revenue at all in proportion to the increased area of taxation. In 1793, British India contained 200,000 square miles; in 1813, 320,000; and in 1853, 600,000 square miles, besides a more than equal amount of tributary States. They were continually told that the Punjaub was a profitable acquisition. Now, the total revenue derived last year from this portion of our possessions in India was 2,000,000l.; of this sum, 1,600,000l. was derived from the land tax. The total civil expenditure was 1,300,000l., leaving a surplus of 700,000l. to defray the general expenses of the Government. Taking the average of the military expenditure, the cost of the army in the Punjaub would be about 2,000,000l., which, added to the expenses of the civil government would make a total expenditure upon the civil and military departments of 3,300,000l., while the revenue was only 2,000,000l., leaving a deficit 626 of 1,300,000l. He would now approach a subject respecting which the most strenuous advocates of the East India Company did not attempt to say much—the subject of public works. Within the last few years this point had attracted a large share of public attention, and he was far from denying that undoubtedly something had been done in this direction. The right hon. Baronet the President of the Board of Control quoted the other day the case of the three great works which were always brought forward when this question of public works was mooted—the Grand Trunk Road, the Ganges Canal, and the Jumna Canal. It was not, however, by taking a few isolated instances that they could understand what the Government had done in regard to so important a matter as the public works of India. The only fair test was, what proportion of the revenue derived from the country had been expended on these works. Upon this subject he found various and conflicting details. One authority had stated it at 500,000l. a year, another at 360,000l.; while Mr. Kaye, who appeared the best authority on the subject, stated that the average of the last fifteen years had not been more than 300,000l., the total net revenue at the same time exceeding 20,000,000l. It was asked by some persons why, after all, it should be so great a charge against the Government of India that it had not taken upon itself the construction of works which in this country were left to private capital and enterprise to carry out? To this he would reply that the position of the Government of India differed widely from that of this country, and from any other country in Europe. In almost every part of India, with the exception of Bengal, the Government had virtually assumed to itself the proprietorship of the soil. The Government, therefore, took upon itself the position and duty of landlords, and he did not believe that any landed proprietor in this country would think it sufficient to make merely an outlay of 2 per cent on his gross receipts for the repairs and improvement of land. [The noble Lord here read some extracts from Mr. Kaye's work on India, referring to the families in India, and stating that the whole produce of the land was at the mercy of the seasons, Upper India being visited by periodical famines.] There was in India no mode of guarding against the recurrence of such famines except by the construction of works of irrigation, 627 and, therefore, those works were not merely matters of policy, but of humanity. He had already stated the proportion of the annual revenue which the Indian Government bestowed on works of public utility, but perhaps he might again quote the testimony on this subject of Mr. Kaye, the apologist of the East India Company. [The noble Lord read a passage, in which it was stated that the amount of money expended on public works was miserably small in comparison with the immense sums spent on unproductive wars, and that bridges and other works of utility were not constructed to the extent which the interest of the country demanded, because the necessary money had been swallowed up in extensive and ruinous wars.] Perhaps, before he left this part of the subject he might give a single instance of the effect which this neglect of public works had in impeding commercial communications in the East. It was only fair to say, that the instance he was about to give was taken from the Madras Presidency, and that Presidency was considered behind the others. Speaking of a few years ago, there was only one road in the whole of that Presidency which was maintained in tolerable order—namely, the great trunk road from Madras to Arcot and Vellore, and even along that line of communication the expense of transit was extremely great. From a calculation given him by a gentleman engaged in business, he found that the transit of goods weighing 1,0001b. cost 4½ rupees from Madras to Vellore, being 3d. per ton per mile, or about 18s. per ton for the whole line. Now, from England to Madras the charge would be 7s. per ton, so that it cost twice as much to send goods from Madras to Vellore as it did from England to Madras. If it were said that this state of things was to be lamented, but that from want of money nothing could be done to remedy it, his reply was, that it would answer very well for the Indian Government to borrow money for the purpose of proceeding with public works. He was well aware that, as a general rule, works undertaken by a Government are not so profitable as those conducted by individuals; but he believed that there was no alternative but that the works in India must be done by the Government, or not at all. Considering, also, that there were works at present in operation paying 10 per cent on the expenses of their construction, besides affording to the Government great facilities 628 in the collection of the revenue it might be reasonably concluded that there was nothing to prevent the Government of India from carrying on works which certainly would be greatly remunerative. He had intended to offer a few remarks on the subject of the judicial administration in India, but, considering how long he had already occupied the attention of the House, he thought it might be better to reserve his observations on that head for another opportunity. This, however, he would say, that anybody who had read the evidence given before the Parliamentary Committees, who had perused such works as those published by Mr. Norton and others, and who had seen officially recorded statements, must conclude that the judicial administration, as at present existing in India, was not in a satisfactory state. He was quite ready to admit that, in reference to this matter, great difficulty had to be encountered. In the first place, the best legal education could only be obtained in England, while, on the other hand, a knowledge of the habits and customs of the people, which was equally essential to the due consideration of justice, could not be obtained in England, but only in India. That was a difficulty which he did not underrate; and the only reason why he touched, however briefly, on what he believed to be the unsatisfactory state of the Indian judicature, was to bring that circumstance in confirmation of the statement he had ventured to make to the House, that the general condition of India was one which required the most deliberate and serious consideration of Parliament. Of equal importance to those topics on which he had already dwelt, was the question of education. In the case of Indian education, as in the case of Indian judicature, he was quite ready to admit that there existed a complication of difficulties. There were formerly certain classes in India who were very adverse to any education being given by the English authorities; and, on the other hand, there were many who objected to all teaching at the expense of the Government, except such as was of a proselytising character. Besides these difficulties, there was in India the want of that local organisation and that local government, by which it might be possible to raise local funds for the purpose of education. He was ready to allow the strength of all these obstacles; but, nevertheless, when he looked at what had been done, and considered what, in spite 629 of all these difficulties, might be done, be could not but think that, in respect of education, the Indian Government had failed in fulfilling its duty. The amount expended on education all over India was about 50,000l. a year, or, taking the higher estimate of the hon. Member for Manchester, 66,000l., while the gross revenue of India was 25,000,000l., so that the sum expended on education was only l–500th or l–400th of the revenue. He would only observe on this subject, that those who were inclined to take a very favourable view of Indian administration generally found themselves compelled to give up the case in respect to education. Mr. Marshman, who had good means of information on Indian matters, had declared, in a letter he had published, that the sum devoted to the object of education in India was so small as to be absolutely contemptible. Mr. Marshman showed reasons for this opinion, with which he (Lord Stanley) would not trouble the House; but the simple statement of figures which he had just made, confirmed as it was in its general result by the opinion he had quoted, was sufficient to show that, with regard to education, as with regard to every other question, the proceedings and circumstances of the Indian Government were such as to require strict and searching investigation. He had now come to the end of the great task he had undertaken. He had endeavoured to show that it was inexpedient, if not impracticable, to legislate at the present moment for the government of India. He had endeavoured to show that those dangers which were supposed to be likely to arise from delay were more imaginary than real. He had endeavoured to show that the measure of the Government, while it disturbed existing arrangements, was not in itself permanent and final; and, lastly, so far as his unwillingness to trespass on the time of the House allowed him, he had, taking one after another the principal branches of Indian administration, endeavoured to express that which undoubtedly was his firm conscientious opinion, that while in many respects the steps taken by the Indian Government had been successful, there were yet in the administration, as conducted for the last twenty years, ample room and sufficient cause for a strict and searching investigation by Parliament before the Parliament passed a verdict of approval on their past conduct, or left in their hands any portion of the power which they had hitherto exercised. 630 The noble Lord concluded by moving the following Amendment:—To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words" in the opinion of this House, further information is necessary, to enable Parliament to legislate with advantage for the permanent Government of India; and, that, at this late period of the Session, it is inexpedient to proceed with a measure which, while it disturbs existing arrangements, cannot be considered as a final settlement' — instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. LOWE
said, he hoped that the words which had just been read by the Speaker would recall the attention of the House to the real question under consideration, because the latter part of the noble Lord's speech appeared to him to have considerably diverted attention from it. The question raised by the Motion for the second reading of the Bill was no less than the manner in which they were to deal with the future government of India; but the question raised by the noble Lord in his Amendment was the preliminary one, whether they should go into that question at all. He had no doubt the noble Lord was acting in conformity with a strict sense of duty in bringing forward the Amendment; but he could not but regret, and he thought the House would have cause to regret too, that he should have moved it, because, owing to it, they would have to discuss continually, first, whether they were to go into the debate at all, and next, whether they should go into the discussion,; as the noble Lord had, of many matters in the propriety of which they could not concur. So that they would be bandied backwards and forwards—first, from the main subject of debate to the propriety of debating it, and then from the propriety of debating it back to the main subject, and so on over the whole range of the topics of discussion, when it would have been expedient, if they could, to have kept plainly and clearly to the one point at issue. But he had a further complaint against the noble Lord. Not only had he embarrassed the question with a preliminary discussion, but, having given such arguments as he thought fit in support of the Amendment, he had diverged into a number of subjects collateral to both, which, however interesting in themselves as illustrative of the admirable use which the noble Lord made of his time when he visited India, were quite beside the question the House had to set- 631 tle, which was in substance the form of the Home Government of India. Warned by the example of the noble Lord, he would make no promises to the House. The noble Lord had commenced his speech by stating that he would not go at all into the question of the future government of India, nor into that of the double government; yet he saw reason, in the course of his address, to alter his course, and to do both. He (Mr. Lowe), warned by that example, would make no promises, but he would endeavour to keep to the subject matter before the House—namely, the preliminary question of the second reading of the Bill, so far as it bore upon that question. The noble Lord's Amendment, he submitted, was peculiar in its phraseology. The first part of it appeared not to bear at all upon the question before the House, and the second seemed to offer reasons against it, which were quite inadequate for the conclusion at which the noble Lord had arrived. The first part of the Amendment was this: "That in the opinion of this House further information is necessary to enable Parliament to legislate with advantage for the permanent government of India." What had that to do with the question before the House? The noble Lord told them they were legislating for a provisional Government; that the measure was provisional, and not permanent; and then he made that a matter of objection against the measure. If that were so, then this, the first clause of the Amendment, had nothing to do with the question, because they were not proposing a permanent measure according to the noble Lord's own showing. And when a permanent measure was to be introduced, he could not say—for they were always met by the popular topic, that there was not sufficient information; and, indeed, the noble Lord started with this—that there was not sufficient information to enable them to legislate permanently. But what had this to do with the real question before the House? Then, as to the latter part of the Amendment, it was equally puzzling. It was: "And that at this late period of the Session it is inexpedient to proceed with a measure which, while it disturbs existing arrangements, cannot be considered as a final settlement." The "late period of the Session" might be a good reason for not proceeding with a measure of a permanent character; but surely the fact that the measure was not of a permanent character, and that it did not assume to settle anything, as the noble Lord's did, 632 was a reason why it should be proceeded with at this particular period of the Session. For these reasons, he repeated that the first part of the Amendment appeared to him not to apply to the Bill at all, while the second rather afforded reasons why the House should do just the contrary of that which the noble Lord wanted them to do. But, passing by these subjects, he would now call attention to the state of the case with regard to this measure. They all knew that last year two Parliamentary Committees, which were appointed by the late Government, went into this subject; and the noble Lord inferred, anticipating the objection about to be made, it was clearly not the intention of the then Government, had they been in office, to legislate this Session, because they pledged themselves not to legislate until the Committees had reported. But he begged the House to observe that the late Government did not let those Committees separate without obtaining a quasi report. Both stated in a wonderful manner—for they did not formally report, nor did they say they had taken all the evidence—that, so far as they had gone, their impression was very favourable to the Company. Now, he (Mr. Lowe) thought, looking at the circumstances, at the position of the question, and the great convenience of getting the measure over this Session, that, had the late Government remained in office, there was good reason to suppose—for these clauses were not introduced into the report for nothing—it was their intention to found upon them Bills for renewing the government of India very much as it stood before. But the noble Lord now stated that the Government of which he was a member would not have taken that course had they now been in power. Then he said it was unprede-dented that such a measure as this should be brought forward at so late a period in the Session. But how stood the facts? The Bill was introduced on the 9th of June; and he had referred back to the periods when the Bills of 1813 and 1833 were introduced. In 1813 the India Bill was introduced on the 16th June—that was, seven days later than the present Bill; and in 1833 the Bill was introduced on the 15th June—that was, six days later than the present Bill. So that, so far from being unprecedented, the present Bill was actually six or seven days in advance in the Session of those which had preceded it; and the present Government, so far from being in arrear of their predecessors, were 633 actually in advance of them, and were by so much more virtuous than they. The case, however, however, did not rest here. There was not the same pressure upon the present Government as there was upon those of the years 1813 and 1833. In 1813 Parliament had not merely to renew the Government of India, but it had to do away with the monopoly of the India trade —a matter of minute and difficult investigation, which seemed to require that the Bill should be brought in at an early period. In 1833, though the question was exactly of a similar nature, it was greatly complicated by the arrangements for depriving the Company of the monopoly of the China trade, the doing away with, or suspending, their functions altogether as a commercial Company, the disposing of their assets, and settling the manner in which the dividends of the Company should be paid, and other matters. There were thus, in both cases, difficulties of a peculiar nature which did not attach now; and therefore, so far from being in favour of the noble Lord's view, he (Mr. Lowe) claimed them as authority on his side, proving the practice of Parliament to be in favour of the course the Government proposed, whilst they were six or seven days more forward with their measure than their predecessors. The noble Lord spoke of the Indian Bill of 1784, which, he said, was twice before the House. But he would remind the noble Lord that that Bill was the cause of the disruption of the Fox and North Administration—a circumstance which took it out of the category altogether. Then the noble Lord complained of the want of discussion. The Reform Bill and the Ecclesiastical Tithes Bill, and some other measures, he said, occupied immensely more time in debating than had been allotted to the present Bill. This was quite true. The reason for it might be very lamentable; but they were to look at these matters as men of the world. The question that decided the time which a Bill would require for its discussion was the degree of interest that existed in respect to it among large masses of the English people, and the manner in which they pressed upon their Members to take part either for or against it. If the noble Lord wanted to have any-proof of the amount of interest felt in this measure, compared with the long discussions on the Reform Bill, or the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, he could not have done better than have looked around him when he was speaking. That survey 634 must have satisfied the noble Lord that, had he been moving an Amendment with regard to the Reform Bill or the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, he would not have been listened to in the solemn silence that he was to-night, but he would have been met with cheers and counter-cheers and other demonstrations of enthusiasm to his credit. He mentioned this not by way of rejoicing at such a state of things—he greatly deprecated it—but as illustrating the fact that even the noble Lord, with all his talents and his eloquence, had not been able to excite so much interest as was felt on those questions. They were then, as he had intimated, dealing with things as they were, and until that interest existed there was no ground for arguing that they were acting wrongly. In the present state of feeling, experience would show that there was ample time to discuss this question, because it would be discussed only by those who took an interest in the affairs of India; and when they had delivered their opinions he saw no reason for delay, for obstruction, or for renewing the same topics over and over again which had been once settled. The noble Lord complained of the ignorance upon these subjects in England. That there was considerable ignorance, he admitted; but he saw no probability, after waiting a year or two, of that ignorance being removed. For the purpose of a measure of this kind the House might be divided into two parties; those who, from association or connexions, had made themselves masters of the Indian question; and those who had more recently taken it up, and who were, he ventured to say, so far from being undecided, as perfectly decided in their opinions as any could be. Whatever might be the difficulties of the Indian question— and that they were many and various he did not dispute—the faculty appertained to it that it was one upon which men took up and pronounced the most decided opinions. It had not fallen to his lot, nor would it, he believed, to meet with any who really had not sufficient information to make up his mind, and who wanted bonâ fide further information either from India or England. There might be ignorant men, and people would be ignorant, but they had made up their minds. Those who had studied the question, much or little, seemed ready enough to come to a decision. He, therefore, assumed that, unless the noble Lord was prepared to show that by waiting two or three years, the number of those who were devoting their attention to this diffi- 635 cult subject would be enormously increased, there was no reason to suppose that much would be gained in point of knowledge by delaying the Bill. Then the noble Lord said, they ought to have the opinion of people from India; but they had already had people from India—servants of the Company—until they were tired. They had had servants from every branch of the service, civil and military, collectors and judges. Every person who could give information from the service of the Company had been brought before the Committee. The opinions of the English residents had also been taken. It struck him, therefore, that they had not a great deal more to learn—he did not say about India, because that was an infinite subject, the study of a life—but about the form of government that was best suited for India. It must, he thought, have struck any one who had listened to the evidence of the gentlemen who came from India, that they had given most admirable and accurate information as to the particular districts in which they lived, or the departments in which they were employed; but they had not troubled themselves much as to the rest of India;—in fact, it appeared to him, that many gentlemen who came home from India had less knowledge of it generally than was possessed by many persons in England who had never been in India at all. From some defect probably in the system of education for the civil service, or the absorbing nature of their duties and the heat of the climate, they did not seem in general to have devoted much time to anything but the performance of their duties; and—though it might sound like a paradox—for a general knowledge of India he should look rather to England than to India, and rather to those who had been placed at the head of Indian affairs—to men rather who had seen them in their comprehensiveness—than to those who had only been employed in particular districts. The question appeared to be confined to one issue. Pamphlets, he observed, had been written upon the subject; yet the information in them—and he had read them all or nearly all—was merely a repetition of the same arguments. The subject was exhausted nearly; at any rate the English mind did not appear to furnish anything new. The question resolved itself simply into the form of government—the whole casus belli lay between a single and a double government. The arguments were certainly directed with great skill; but he 636 could not see how they were, two years hence, to be nearer a solution than they were at present. The best proof of that was, that he did not believe a single Gentleman would address the House who had not already a most decided opinion one way or the other. The noble Lord said the East India Company was upon its trial, and they ought not to decide the question until the Committee had reported. But he omitted to state that the jury had interrupted the judge, and interposed a verdict of acquittal before the proceedings were half over. The trial of the Company might therefore be considered as over so far as the Committee was concerned; because the same Parliamentary Committee in the Lords who came to a verdict of acquittal, would not be likely to turn round, and say they were completely wrong, and to convict the party whom they were before so prompt to acquit. The noble Lord—who had displayed an acquaintance with the subject which was itself an answer to the argument that there was no information in England in regard to Indian matters—said, with regard to the present state of India, that it was in no danger from insurrection or agitation. This was a subject he did not profess himself competent to deal with; but he thought it was very desirable at all times, and more especially at the present time, that the Government of India should be as strong and as respected on the part of the people as it was possible to be. He would state the reason. From one end to another the whole Eastern world was in a state of commotion. A movement, indeed, was taking place all through Asia, the result of which could not he foreseen. Look to the westward, and you saw commotion between the Russians and the Turks; if you went to the south, the whole of Arabia appeared animated by a fanatic spirit; on the north, Bokhara and Persia were in commotion; and in the East, China, after a sleep of two hundred years, had to oppose a frightful insurrection, the result of which upon the Asiatic mind nobody could foretell. Further south, you find us engaged in an apparently endless and interminable war with the Burmese. But India was still tranquil; and it was our duty to make our government there as strong as it could be, both with regard to Natives and English—both upon those whom we employed, and those who lived under us. When he found that the Affghan war led all the native classes of India to look upon us 637 aggressors, and to believe that we should never be contented with anything short of the conquest of the whole of India, there was an additional reason why we should not tamper with the obedience of a people who were looking up to us, nor do anything detrimental to our authority and interests. For this reason, without questioning the accuracy of the noble Lord, or presuming to doubt his facts, he thought it would be wise not to run any unnecessary risk in exciting the Indian mind at the present moment. But there was another and a much more important view of the subject upon which he was better able to judge, and that was the effect the measure proposed by the noble Lord—the suspension or renewal of the Charter for two or three years—would be likely to have upon the Indian Government and the Indian service. The noble Lord said they also put the matter in a provisional shape, but they were injuring the prestige of Government. But he omitted to make this distinction. Why should the Government of India be suspended for a year or two? No other reason could be given than that Parliament should have time to consider its conclusions. Then, was that state of things, which had been favourable to the efficiency, power, and prestige of Government when brought into contact with native Princes and populations, and which was likely to secure subordination among our own servants, to be continued? If not, was it not likely to be a means of weakening our hold upon the country just when we were exposed to unknown dangers? The noble Lord would, no doubt, retort upon him, and say, "You are doing the same thing, because the Bill says, 'until Parliament shall make further provision.'" But he would point out the difference. It was this, that, putting off one decision, they were putting the Company upon its trial; it was asking everybody who had anything to say, to come forward; it was exposing the Company to a grave suspicion that their government was a bad one. He did not shrink from that conclusion. If the Company's government was a bad one, change it; but when they had a vast empire at an enormous distance, depending, not upon the army, but upon the prestige, character, and influence, and upon the unvarying success and prosperity which had attended the operations of the East India Company from the time of Clive to this day, he trusted they would not hold it up for two or three years as condemned beforehand in 638 the eyes of those very people whose submission depended upon the respect and esteem they felt for it. If we were to govern India through the Company, the Company must be respectable and respected. But the distinction he wished to draw, was still more obvious and conclusive. In the former case the Company was condemned; but under the Bill the language of Parliament was virtually this: "We have made the best provision which our information will enable us for the good government of India, and we send it out as such; but we are not wedded and bigotted to what we have done; knowing that we cannot judge of your habits and customs here so well as you who are on the spot, we are willing to listen to anything that may be said to alter and amend that which we have done." Then the noble Lord wished to see the government renewed for a term of years. Why? The colonial governments were not renewed. They had granted to them that which was deemed best; but Parliament was not precluded from altering or amending as occasion offered. Parliament did not shut its ears to grievances: it prevented evils from arising, and he thought that was a wise and statesmanlike course to take as to India. Then the noble Lord had two grounds from which he drew the conclusion that there ought to be delay. One was the lateness of the period of the Session, and the other the nature of the Bill itself. He certainly thought, however, when the Government introduced a measure after great care, deliberation, and consideration, that any hon. Member who moved the postponement of such a measure for two years, should be prepared to show in what respect the measure of the Government was defective, and now capable of improvement. But this was not the case of the noble Lord—he had really made no objection to it at all. The general scope of the Bill did not in any way meet with his censure; his opinion was favourable to the principle of a double government; and he was favourable to the minor details of the Bill. True, he made some objections to the formation of the Board of Directors, which was quiet open to him, but it was no reason for refusing to legislate at all; and as to the question of patronage, the noble Lord was, upon the whole, satisfied. He did not know that the calculations about patronage led to a great deal; but the noble Lord said, if the Government took some of the appointments from the Directors, why not take all, why 639 leave any? He thought the Government had shown great prudence and judgment in the course they had taken, because it was an experiment. The putting up offices to public competition was something quite new in this country. There was every reason to believe, and he hoped that it would succeed; but he thought, as the principle which prevailed at present had not failed, it would have been very foolish to discard it until they had tested how the other worked, and seen that in making the alteration they had not committed any error. With regard to throwing open the civil offices to public competition, they could hardly go wrong; but experience proved that the greatest ornaments of the military profession did not shine much at examinations at a very early age; and, therefore, he thought it was wise to keep the military appointments as at present, especially as it was quite possible, under the wide powers of the Act, that the course which the noble Lord had suggested with reference to the children of officers might be adopted. But as regarded the civil service, he maintained that the course taken by the Government was beyond all controversy right. He should be grieved to see this Bill deferred, if only because it would deprive India for years of the enormous benefits which would arise from the reform in the civil service. The civil service of India was very different from any other service. In the generality of cases an incompetent officer had other people to do his work for him; he was perhaps scolded a little, but could contrive to get on without doing any serious amount of mischief; but it was not so in India. The peculiarity of the civil service there was the vast, the tremendous amount of responsibility thrown upon every individual officer of the Government. Millions of people were completely under the control of one man, who had the power of inflicting misery on these persons; and under such circumstances it was a most sacred duty cast upon the Government to see, not merely that the general average of officers was tolerably good, but that in the case of every writer sent out they obtained the best and ablest men this country could afford; and they did not, for the sake of obliging friends or relations, or any such reason, sacrifice one atom of the power of doing good towards the people whom Providence had placed under their power. It was their duty to take care that every man sent out was as able as could 640 be found within the four seas; and where they knowingly and wilfully sent out a worse, when a better was at their disposal, they might be inflicting enormous evils on a people who had every claim on their sympathies and consideration. He had read the speech of a noble Lord who, with infinite knowledge, with infinite eloquence, and with infinite ingenuity, pleaded the cause of ignorance, and so persuasively, that he might say, "If I am to be persuaded I would be just as ignorant as to be as learned a teacher, and no more." That noble Lord said that public examinations were the greatest absurdity; that they would get nothing but blockheads; that nothing was so bad as an over-educated man; and that they would be sending out only a number of pedants and schoolmasters. That was not the experience of that House, or of the country. He would like to know who took the lead in this country? On whose lips did deliberative assemblies hang? To whose opinions did the public give heed? The men who had shone in public examinations, and carried off those very prizes which that most learned and eloquent nobleman so vehemently decried? It was very well to talk of a system of cramming, and he knew something of that system. That was a subject on which he was an authority. No doubt there was a great deal of abuse in cramming at the Universities. The cause was this—that the task of examination fell upon a class of men who cherished early traditions of what had been taught in their day, and which were the staple of the examinations at Oxford and Cambridge. At Oxford there were curious points in Aristotle handed down from time to time; and at Cambridge there were problems connected with the names of the authors who invented them—not to be found in books, and forming a sort of disciplines arcana; and he was happy to think that many dodges of his own invention were taught under his own name to this day. He would not say it was totally impossible it could occur; but where cramming, without talent, carried off honours, it was the fault of the examiner. Competent people were not appointed; and the examination was conducted in a narrow and pedantic spirit; but judicious examiners would vary the subjects, so as to test not only the memory, but the mind, the intellect, and the acumen of the persons txamined. The difficulty could he avoided; end it was most important in another point of view that the intellect should undergo 641 cultivation. Nothing was more distressing in the evidence that had been given before the Committee on India than the fact that the kindly feeling which had hitherto existed between the Europeans and Natives, whether in the army or the civil service, was on the decline—that there was not the same sympathy between them. In his opinion, nothing was more likely to correct that want of sympathy than an improvement in the intellectual standard of those to whom they entrusted the management of the Natives, and the government of the country; because, in the first place, there was a close connexion between the moral and intellectual qualities of the human mind; and, in the second place, it was well known that ignorance and stupidity led to the harsh and brutal treatment of inferiors. Where an ignorant and stupid man was brought in contact with a people differing in manner, dress, and language, he regarded them with stolid contempt, treated them as inferiors, and rejoiced in his own superiority, small as that might be; whereas a man of talent, accustomed to reason and think, regarded them as an object of curiosity, interest, and sympathy, and made it his business to study them as another variety of the human race; and those habits of familiarity induced a kindly feeling on both sides, which was of enormous advantage in a country like India. He had now gone through that part of the noble Lord's speech. He was not going into other questions referred to by the noble Lord, because, with great submission to him, they had nothing to do with the case before the House. He thought he had mercantile knowledge enough to know that the present rate of freights between London and Madras was not 7s. but more like 70s. a ton, as he knew 5l. a ton to the Australian Colonies—
explained that he had spoken of an actual case, not an imaginary one, of a particular cargo which had come out at that rate, but he did not know under what circumstances; there was probably some further expense.
§ MR. LOWE
continued: He thought he had shown that the noble Lord bad made out no case for delay in this instance. He was not arguing whether this Bill was good or bad, or whether it was fit for the House to adopt it or not; but he said it was a question fit to entertain, and that, although it was important, considering the number of persons who took an interest in the question, and wished to express their opin- 642 ions upon it, it was quite within reach to deal with it in the present Session. He would put this final consideration before the noble Lord—that they could not argue this question with regard to the effect on the people of India, and the prestige of the English name, as if the Ministerial Bill had not been brought forward; they would view it with reference to the Bill before the House. It would be presumed, and people would act on the assumption, that the matters contemplated by the Bill would be carried out; and the effect of that hanging over the head of the Company and the Government, would be extremely injurious to their efficiency in many ways. Feeling they were in a provisional state, there were a number of measures which they would not dare to take. He knew nothing that would so completely paralyse the energies of the Government as that; for although they would be anxious to get what credit they could, there would be a corresponding fear, much stronger, that they might get discredit, most of the questions being matters on which two opinions might be formed. Not to speak of the immediate reforms this measure would accomplish being deferred—such as the alteration of the vexatious regulations of furlough, and the recasting the judicial system, which was so much required—he thought the educational establishments would be paralysed by the uncertainty which postponement would cause. He thought the people had a right to know at once whether this Bill would be passed into a law or not, and that the Government were entitled to the support, not only of those who were in favour of double, but of those who were in favour of a single government, to bring the question to an issue, and decide it one way or the other. For these reasons, therefore, he trusted the House would not accede to the noble Lord's Amendment. He wished, indeed, it could have been disposed of in a separate shpe, so as not to interfere, as he was afraid it would do, with the full discussion of this question.
§ MR. PHINN
said, his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Lowe) had used every argument to persuade the House that the noble Lord's Amendment was inappropriate, and not justified by the case he had adduced; but he had failed to discuss the provisions of the Bill, or to enforce its utility, as they might have expected from his official position he would have done. He was not surprised at that, because he believed if the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) and his 643 right hon. Friends on the Treasury bench had been in opposition, and this Bill had been proposed, it would have been opposed by the whole weight of the party that now sat on that side of the House, and the regular forces would have been assisted by the lance of his hon. and learned Friend, who would have couched it with the same advantage against the Bill. His (Mr. Phinn's) objection to the Bill was a simple one: it was a great departure from the principle the Whigs had always advocated, which in opposition they had always urged, and when in office tried to enforce. In 1783 Mr. Fox propounded a principle which he believed to be clear and indisputable, that unless some grave reason interfered in this great monarchical country, all government should proceed from the Crown. Upon that principle he took his stand against this Bill. He maintained that in a country of this description, where they wished to maintain the influence of the Crown, where the theory and principle of legislation rested on the assumption that they must look to the Crown as the source of all legitimate government, unless some strong reason could be urged to the contrary, our greatest dependency ought to be under the government of the Crown. That was the doctrine of Mr. Fox in 1783. It was true that the indisposition of the reigning Monarch, and the suspicion of his then advisers, and the power of the other House, contributed to defeat the measure which was to enforce that principle; but he believed that the Government of this country should never lose sight of it; and was it to be said that, in India, where power and influence were almost worshipped, the cold shade of the Company was to be interposed between the subjects of the Crown and the Monarch of these realms? It might be said that that was good in theory, but would not do in practice, and that the English were a practical race. But he would ask whether this Bill was one from which they could expect any good results? It was a Bill of half measures, neither adopting the principle of the government of the Company as at present constituted, nor that of giving the people of India the full light and effulgence of the Crown. In legislating for India, they should never have half measures. That was the opinion of Mr. Burke, and it had been followed by Lord Ellenborough. They had now a strong Government, a Government that had carried its measures by larger majorities in that House than almost any other Govern- 644 ment of the country for some time. He, had hoped from that Government for a large, liberal, and substantial measure for India—one that would have been a final settlement of the question of the government of that country. His hon. and learned Friend advocated the measure upon two opposite grounds: first, he said a lease for any term would be disadvantageous, because towards the termination of it there would be continued agitation; but then he said, there being no definite term fixed, they could alter the system if they thought necessary. But they must not suppose, because they had not fixed any time for this sort of hybrid Government, that there would not be a constant agitation in India, which must produce an effect in this country. His own opinion was, that there would be a constant agitation, and he should have greatly preferred continuing the government of India to the Company for a certain number of years, to give time to Parliament and the country to decide what form of government was best suited for India. When persons came better to understand the subject, they would have many reasons shown why this measure could not work. His hon. and learned Friend said, do not discredit the Government of India; and the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was full of panegyric of the Company; but what did the right hon. Gentleman do? He showed his suspicion of the Company by introducing an element which gave the President of the Board of Control more power over the Company than he had before, but did not give him more responsibility before Parliament. It might be said his argument was in favour of the continuance of the Company. He agreed with the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg), who was the advocate of the Company in that House, that if the Company was the best Government for India, in spite of all theory it ought to continue to be the Government; but he did not accept that issue. He said the onus lay upon those who advocated a system so opposed to all theory of legislation in this country to show that it was better than any other that could be devised under the circumstances. Now, was that proved? What had been the anomalous constitution of the body by which India was governed? It was about the most repulsive form of government that could be devised, because it was not the government of a Sovereign tempered by an aristocracy, but was the government of a plutocracy; 645 and whatever might he said of their sympathy for India, it was ridiculous to gay that the object of that Government had been the welfare of the people of India, and the advantage of the people of England. He would ask the House to consider what the composition of that Government was. Any person who possessed a certain amount of stock had the power of voting at the elections of persons who were to have a very considerable share in the government of India. And how did that system work? Why, no person went into the market impressed simply with the feelings of goodwill and sympathy for the native population of India, but he went there to get the ordinary amount of interest for his capital in the first place, and in the next to obtain a share in the patronage distributed by the Board of Directors. In discussing the question of the administration of Indian affairs, there was one great difficulty, and, although hon. Gentlemen who sat near him had been taunted with citing scraps of speeches and opinions of persons who had been in India, he himself saw no other way of conducting the discussion, for the Committees which had sat upon this subject had not published any report, and hon. Members had only these scraps of speeches to rely upon. But whose fault was that? Was it not the fault of those who stood in the way of the House and the public having an authoritative report made by those who, from their knowledge of the facts had by carefully balancing the testimony given for and against the Company, were best able to arrive at a just and sound result? If reports had been published, they might have been appealed to for the result of the evidence taken before the Committee; but, as the case stood, the evidence was of the most conflicting nature. Some persons had been in different parts of India, and were only acquainted with the condition of such parts as they had themselves visited; while others, according as they considered themselves well or ill-treated by the Company, viewed the matter in different lights. As, then, there were no reports to go upon, it was necessary to have recourse to the ordinary means of information. He did not mean to say that official documents were always the best sources of information, because in general society, and by means of conversation with persons well acquainted with any subject, it was possible to acquire a more practical knowledge of that subject than by mere reading. He would beg permis- 646 sion of the House to refer to a few documents in order to show what the feeling in India was upon the subject of the election of Directors; but he would not refer to any which had not been stamped with authenticity by the hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton. A well-informed contributor to the Calcutta Review stated that—Unhappily, a large number of proprietors have come to set a price upon their votes, and have learned how to turn them to the best account as marketable commodities. They have learnt the dangerous art of combination. A single vote will not fetch its price, but a bundle of votes will, and so a party of friendly proprietors agree together to club their votes. It becomes a matter of arrangement among them as to who, in the first instance, is to represent the collective body, and obtain the required 'consideration' for himself. This is probably decided with reference to the respective ages of the sons, nephews, or other relatives for whom writerships or cadetships are sought. Mr. Smith's son is 18 years of age; it is time that he was on his way to India, so Sir. Smith takes the bag of votes in his hand, and makes the best bargain that he can. Captain Jones's eldest boy is but 14—he can afford to wait till the next election; and as for Miss Brown, she has a nephew and godson only 12 years old; she can nothing for him at present, but, by lending her two votes to Mr. Smith and Captain Jones, and the other proprietors in turn with whom she has clubbed, she can accumulate a little stock of votes against the time when her protegé will be old enough to take a slice of the patronage loaf, and, in due course, she takes the bundle in her hand and makes her bargain with the embryo Director. Practically, she reserves her votes throughout five or six successive elections, and then, just as she is in a position to profit by them, the accumulated treasure looks her pleasantly in the face. Thanks to the principle of combination, she has not wasted her votes. Her two votes could have secured her nothing at any one of the past elections, but now she has a dozen in her hand. Miss Brown aspires to a writership, but a cavalry cadetship is pretty certain at the least. Such is the constitution of the Company.Such was the body which the hop. Member for Honiton asserted were actuated by feelings of sympathy for the native population of India. He was told on the other hand, and he believed, that it was a great evil, and the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control had admitted that it was so; but how did he propose to deal with it? He proposed giving permissive powers to the Court of Directors to enact by-laws in order to remedy the evil; but every one knew the effect of giving permissive powers. Why, permissive powers had been given to allow the natives to occupy situations of trust, and the justice and policy of doing so had been advocated, in language which no one who had heard could ever forget, by the right 647 hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macau-lay); but those permissive powers had never been in the slightest degree enforced, and in the present case he entertained no doubt that all the evils of that most discreditable system would remain. It was a' known fact that many Directors went into the direction with their patronage mortgaged for years beforehand. The present system was, in truth, opposed to all theory and to all principle; it was ruinous in its constitution, and there must be a strong case in the way of experience and practice made out in its favour before it could receive the approval of Parliament. He adverted to these circumstances because it was necessary, in considering the relative advantages of India being governed by the Crown, or by a body of gentlemen thus elected, to bring forward all these facts. He would now advert to another topic, but very briefly, because he knew that it was a subject which would be discussed over and over again during the course of the debate, but he would ask the House to contrast the figures which he should adduce from a report of the Directors themselves, and then to judge if the picture of the prosperity of the Natives of India was as favourable as the hon. Member for Honiton seemed to consider it. He was willing to adopt the opinion that the increase or decrease of an article of necessity was a fair criterion of the condition of the people of a country. He would take the article of salt; and from Colonel Sykes's tables it appeared that in the Presidency of Madras, in the year 1839–40, the consumption of salt amounted to 16,194,188rs., while in the year 1849–50 it was only 16,107,384rs., so that in an article of the first necessity, during ten years, there had been a decreased consumption, and that under what the hon. Member for Honiton had called a thriving administration. He would allow that in the North Western Provinces the consumption had been nearly doubled; but he wished to know whether the calculation for the later date had been made for the same area as the calculation for the former, or whether it included the Punjaub, and the various other districts which had since been annexed to the British dominions. It had been stated that beyond the land tax taxation was unknown in India; but the tax upon salt was one which fell upon the Natives with extreme severity. Colonel Sykes stated that it amounted to 1½ per cent on a labourer's wages, if he were a 648 single man; but if he had a wife and children it was proportionately increased; and, indeed, in Benares the tax was almost 3 per cent. Now, he should like to know if a labourer in this country, earning about 8s. or 10s. a week, could be taxed 3 per cent upon his wages? No Chancellor of the Exchequer would venture to propose such a tax. But it was said that the salt tax was the only one which the labourer paid towards the necessities of the State. But was there not the tax on spirits? And was there not a tax from 18 to 25 percent on the sum in dispute if the subject ventured to enforce his rights in a court of law? He would now advert to another topic. The hon. Member for Honiton had made a great impression on the House by his statement with regard to the imports and exports to and from India. He had shown that since the year 1834 they had been nearly doubled, and had mentioned it as a strong proof of the prosperity of the country, and of the beneficial influence of the Company's government; but he did not mention to what extent the area of the country had increased since then; nor did he state that since that period a vast commercial monopoly had been destroyed, nor did he refer to the new markets which had since been thrown open—such as Australia, New Zealand, and China. He had not adverted either to the important fact, that the imports and exports of India varied proportionately with the consumption of opium in China. The increase in the consumption of opium had been very considerable. In the year 1832–33 it amounted to 728,517l., while in the year 1849–50 it had increased to 3,309,637l. It was to be considered that opium was usually paid for in specie; and that would account, in some degree, for the manner in which it affected the imports and exports. But it must be remembered that the revenue from opium was now in a very precarious state, and ought, in dealing with India, to be seriously taken into account. A great deal had been said about the increase of shipping in India. Now, he would not detain the House by going through details on that subject, but he would merely say that, in his opinion, taking into consideration the number of new markets which had been opened, that increase did not afford any proof of the prosperity of the Natives of India. He did not wish to urge against the Company that they had adopted a uniform system of bad government; he had no doubt that they had adopted the system which 649 they considered best calculated to promote their own interests, and, as he gave them no credit for any of its merits, so he attributed no blame to them for its defects. In discussing the present question, which he considered to be merely a question as to the comparative prosperity of India, he would not refer to the judicial system, because the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. J. G. Phillimore) had already treated that part of the subject in a manner which left but little to be said; and he would merely make one observation. The costs of judicial proceedings in India, as compared with England, were enormous. They were levied upon a vicious principle, not according to the expenses incident to the suit, but to the amount at stake between the parties; and that such a system should be allowed to continue for a single year, spoke very badly for the Company's administration. It was a system introduced by the Company, and they had not the excuse of having found it in existence in the country, and it had been found an intolerable grievance. A case involving a very large sum of money might occupy the time of the Judge and of the Court but a very few minutes, and yet a large percentage would have to be paid upon the sum at stake. He would call the attention of the House to another circumstance. Some short time back two Judges were removed from their positions on account of their indebtedness, on the ground that their independence was thereby effected; and what was their answer? Why, they confessed that they were deeply in debt, but justified themselves by saying that to be in debt was the necessary consequence of their position, and that the Government were aware of the fact when they were elevated to the Bench, and they considered it most oppressive to remove them on such grounds as these. What, he would ask, could be said of the administration of a country where the judges justified themselves for being in debt on the ground of its being incidental to their position? Ought such a state of things to be allowed to continue for a single moment? With regard to the public works, he must express his astonishment at the small portion of the revenue which had been expended upon them. It certainly did not contrast well with the munificence of the native princes, who had expended vast sums of money in works of irrigation, in roads, and in edifices attesting their munificence, which when con- 650 trasted with our own might well make us ashamed. The hon. Member for Honiton said, that if the matter were investigated, it would be found that these works were all undertaken for private purposes; but he must confess that he had not so read history, neither had Mr. Kaye, nor Mr. Elphinstone, nor Mr. Thornton, nor Mr. Mill; and, although historians had suggested that such was the case, they had expressed their opinion that the suggestion was incorrect. There was the well of Delhi, between 1,300 and 1,400 years old —that remained as a sign of the munificence of some native Prince; and he would express his opinion that the conduct of the Company, as regarded public works in India, would not bear comparison with that of the native Princes. He would refer to the works of the Ranee of Odeypoor, who, with a small income, had expended large sums. The conduct of the Company was the more to be wondered at as the money they had spent on public works had always been returned to them fourfold. The only works of the Company which the natives saw were the roads, and those they looked upon as military precautions to insure their continued subjection. There was one point which had not been touched upon, and that was the condition to which the natives of India had been reduced. The native population were too often looked upon as a set of half-dressed savages, toiling for their bread under a burning sun. They did not reflect that there was there the debris of great monarchies—the remnant of mighty aristocracies—a population which had wrestled with this country for empire—men who had commanded in great battles when nations were at stake; that there had been a great aristocracy, who ruled— great officers who had administered the affairs of provinces before they were wrested from them—brave men, who had fought the battles of Scinde and the Punjaub— now condemned to retirement and inaction, and who felt that there was no vent open for their feelings or their aspiration. Look to the enormous amount of money that was remitted every year from India to England, and contrast that with the torpidity and inactivity to which they condemned the natives. Look to the way in which they had rejected the claim to an Indian appointment of the son of a man who had done more than any other native to secure India to our sway, in violation of the promises made to him, and in violation of the direct regulations made by Parlia- 651 ment, while the glowing words of the right hon. Member for Edinburgh were still ringing in their ears, that no native was to be rejected from employment. The rejection of the son of the man who had done so much for the Company must have shown to the natives how little they had to depend upon. Look, again, at the way in which they had dealt with the native Princes of India. There was a number of subordinate Princes who had treaties with them; and if any difference arose in the construction of those treaties, the interpretation rested entirely with the Best India Company; and if any native came over to this country to obtain redress, he was referred by the East India Company to the Board of Control, and by the Board of Control he was referred back to the Governor General. With the facilities the Company had for such a purpose, he thought they might at least have tried the system of arbitration which was recommended by the hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire; and he could not doubt that if such a Court had been established, and if it had been administered in the name of the Sovereign, the native Princes would have gladly submitted to it their differences, and would have bowed implicitly to its award. Was the House aware that on that night, and on the several successive nights of these discussions, two great Parsee merchants were present, who had Come to this country, suing in vain for that justice here that was denied them in India?—that the Vakeel of the Rajah of Sattara was also present, who had come to this country to complain that his master had been torn unjustly from his throne, but who could obtain no redress? Did the House think that those things would not sink deeply into the minds of the people of India, or that from these things a retributive justice would not some day come? The hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe) had referred to the events that were now taking place in Eastern Asia; and he agreed with the hon. Member that these changes might seriously affect the condition of the people of India, especially if they believed, as they were told on the highest authority, that they were leased out by Government to the East India Company to do the best they could with—if they found that their Princes were denied justice—that the natives of India were denied the employments they formerly occupied —if they believed these things, was it to be supposed that 652 their fidelity would remain unshaken, or that they would long remain attached to their service? It seemed to him imperative that the East India Company should give fair scope for the abilities of the natives of India, That course had been recommended by Sir T. Monro, Mr. Mountstuart Elphinstone, and by Sir J. Malcolm; and the omission of any provision for such a purpose was one of the most serious defects of the present Bill. It was a misfortune that, not having an authoritative report from the Committee, it was rendered necessary that he should read extracts to the House. He found Sir John Malcolm saying—We must not conceal from ourselves the causes which have combined to exclude the natives from any share in the administration of India. It is an overweening sense of our own superiority, a love of power, and an alarm which I deem groundless, that, as their interests are advanced, those of European agents will be deteriorated. But, if I am right in believing, as I conscientiously do, that, unless they are treated with more confidence, elevated by more distinction, and admitted to higher employment, we cannot hope to preserve for any longer period our dominions in this country, no feelings or considerations should be allowed to oppose their gradual progress to every civil function and employ. By raising the most active and eminent of the natives of India in their own estimation and that of others, we shall reconcile them, and, through them, the population at large, to a Government which, daring to confide in its own justice and wisdom, casts off the common, narrow, and depressing rules of foreign conquerors.He might quote from that illustrious statesman and benefactor of India, Sir Thomas Munro, his condemnation of the systematic exclusion of the natives from offices of responsibility and emoluments; but he would refrain; he could not, however, forbear citing a passage which was full of eloquence and wisdom, Written by the Hon. Mountstuart Elphinstone, who said—Under a native government, independent of the mutual adaptation of the institutions and the people, there is a connected chain throughout the society, and a free communication between the different parts. Notwithstanding the distinctions of caste, there is no country where men rise with more ease from the lowest rank to the highest. The first Nabob of Oude was a petty merchant, the first Peishwa a village accountant. The ancestors of Holkar were goatherds, and those of Scindiah slaves. All these, and many other instances, took place within the last century. Promotions from among the common people to all the ranks of civil and military employment, short of sovereignty, are of daily occurrence under native States; and this keeps up the spirit of the people, and, in that respect, partially supplies the place of popular institutions. The free intercourse of different ranks also keeps up a sort of circulation 653 and diffusion of such knowledge and such sentiment as exist in society. Under us, on the contrary, the community is divided into two perfectly distinct and definite bodies, of which the one is torpid and inactive, while all the power seems concentrated in the other.These were not the opinions of Young India—of speculative theorists—but were the opinions of the noblest talent of the country; men who had devoted their lives to the administration of India; who well knew and understood the feelings, habits, and prejudices of the natives; and who had made it their study to become acquainted with the wants, desires, and aspirations of the people whom they had governed. In reviewing the state of the people of India —considering that no native was enabled to rise in the army to a higher rank than that of a captain, and that they were not placed in any position that commanded influence, while beardless boys were every day promoted over their head;—when the natives found that they themselves were leased out to the Company, how could they imagine that under such degrading circumstances discontent should not prevail? It was not his habit to quote classical authorities in that House, but there was a passage put in the mouth of one of the great conspirators against the aristocracy of Rome which appeared so apposite, that he could not avoid quoting it:—Nam postquam respublica in paucorum potentium jus atque ditionem concessit, semper illis reges, tetrarchæ vectigales esse; populi, nationes, stipendia pendere; cæteri omnes, strenui, boni, nobiles atque ignobiles, vulgus fuimus; sine gratiâ, sine auctoritate, his obnoxii quibus, si respublica valeret, formidini essemus. Itaque omnes gratia, potentia, honos, divitiâp, apud illus sunt, ant ubi illi volunt; nobis reliquerunt, pericula, repulsas, judicia, egestatem.He knew that that would be called a highly colonred description of the condition of the natives of India under our rule; but the House must remember that they must look at it through the medium of the discontented feelings of the natives themselves. Was that a state of things, he would ask, which would warrant the House in saying that the administration of the government of India had been better managed by the East India Company than they could have hoped to have it managed by any other authority? Was that the state and condition of the people of India which ought to be satisfactory to the people of England? Surely not. But how did this Bill profess to remove these anomalies? They were told in one breath that one great merit of this Bill was, that 654 it was not to endure for any definite period, but that it was to be constantly susceptible of improvement; and on the other hand, they were told that it was desirable to settle this question, that they might repress and discourage agitation. But, so far from its being calculated to produce a settlement of the question, the Bill actually invited agitation. This Bill, while professing to be a perfect settlement of the question, though it was evidently but a temporary measure, would excite much agitation in India; and, unless the system which the Bill went to continue were entirely changed, it would provoke a spirit of discontent in that country which they all ought to do their utmost to prevent. It appeared to him that if they infused into the East India Direction the element of Crown nomination, they ought to go further, and bring the Court of Directors and the President of the Board of Control face to face; in short, they ought to make the Court of Directors a consultative council to the Board of Control. If the President of the Board of Control at any time overruled the advice of the Council, the facts and the grounds on which it rested ought to be minuted and recorded, in order that Parliament, if need be, might judge whether the Council were right or not. With respect to the balloting out of a certain number of the members of the Board of Directors, it might be the means of getting rid of the very brains of the Company, for the ballot was no respecter of persons, and they might possibly lose such men as the hon. Baronet the Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg), and the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Mangles), who were best qualified to give the Crown advice. Then, look at another provision of the Bill. The Crown nominees were to be chosen from persons who had had ten years' experience in the Company's service in India. By this provision would be excluded every Governor General, every Commander of the Forces, and every man who had been Governor of an inferior Presidency, and every legal member of the Legislative Council—they would exclude all those men who had been selected by the Crown as persons of the greatest weight and authority, and in their places they would substitute men who had perhaps all their lives been confined to One place, and who had no experience of the general feeling of the people of this country or of the people of India. There was one small point which, as connected with his own profession, he 655 might be excused from noticing. The President of the Board of Control had pronounced a high panegyric on the appointments of the Directors; but in the Bill he found that the right hon. Gentleman had slipped in a clause, providing that the Advocate General should not be appointed by the Company without the consent of the Crown. He thought this little fact indicated that the right hon. Gentleman had not full confidence in the purity of the Company's appointments. But he could not enter further into the question. He trusted that if the House did reject the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn, they would also reject the second reading of this Bill, or that they would so modify it in Committee— he would propose a clause to that effect himself—that the Government of India should be carried on in the name of the Crown. Her Majesty had lately added to her acquisitions that lustrous jewel which had always been held in a part of India to be the symbol of sovereignty. He hoped that the placing of this jewel among the gems of the British Crown would be the pledge and the gauge to the people of India that their comfort, their prosperity, and their advancement were to occupy the attention, not of a Company, but of the Monarch and Her successors, who, he trusted, would long reign as the Sovereign of England and of India.
§ SIR ROBERT H. INGLIS
said, that feeling objections both to the measure introduced by the Government and to the Amendment of the noble Lord, and having no reason, therefore, to expect support or sympathy either from the Government or from his hon. Friends opposite, or those around him, he, nevertheless, wished to state very briefly the grounds on which his objections were founded. But, in the first place, he might notice that this was not the only instance in which the attention given by the House of Commons to any subject was almost in the exact inverse proportion to its importance and its real interest. Seventy years ago, when the greatest of philosophers and orators adorned that House, even in the days of Burke, India was the dinner-bell of the House of Commons; and it was not too much to say, as a matter of history—for no man could now verify the fact—that it was a signal for Members leaving the House, when the most eloquent man and the most magnificent philosopher rose to address the House on the subject of India; there- 656 fore he was not surprised that at an early period of the present debate there should be but five Members 6n the front bench opposite—that there should have been but one cheer on the opposite side given to the speech of the noble Lord (Lord Stanley)— and that the speech of the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe) should have received the seven cheers which proceeded from the seven Members who represented the Manchester school. But if they waited till the House was better indoctrinated with respect to India, he feared that they had no experience which would justify them in the conclusion that two or even three years hence the benches would be better filled, except at the moment of division. He objected to the Bill before the House, and most especially for the reason which the hon. and learned Member for Kidderminster had given as constituting its merit —namely, the indefiniteness of its duration. Without fixing any time for the duration of the government of the empire of India, the Bill simply said, "Until Parliament shall otherwise provide" these provisions shall be the law. Was not that provoking an annual discussion on the subject of India? His next objection was, that not only did it omit to provide a permanent system of government for India, but it actually destroyed much of the present power of that government without providing any adequate substitute. Another objection he entertained against the Bill was on a point which was regarded as a merit by the hon. and learned Member for Bath (Mr. Phinn), who had made a speech of high Toryism which he (Sir R. H. Inglis) himself might envy—namely that the Bill introduced the element of monarchical government. But that element was that which seventy years ago the combined wisdom of some of the wisest men regarded as the greatest evil they had to contend against; and all experience had since justified the conclusion—namely, a transfer to the Crown of the patronage of our Asiatic empire — a measure that, in their judgment—and the danger was ten times greater now that it was then—would be hazardous to the liberties of the people of England. The House, so jealous on the subject of Government patronage at home, that they objected to a third Secretary of State sitting in that House, lest by that means too much influence should be brought to bear on their deliberations, had yet no difficulty whatever in transferring to Her Majesty's present or future Ministers an 657 amount of patronage in India as to which ail the existing patronage of the Government was but a fraction scarcely to be measured. This was another objection which he entertained to the Bill as it stood. Another, though not indeed so important, was, that it altered the whole constitution of the Home Government of India. The right hon. Gentleman, in bringing in his Bill, had, in one of the longest speches ever delivered in that House, panegyrised the administration of the East India Company at home and abroad; and he (Sir R. H. Inglis) certainly did not expect that that was but a preface to the introduction of a measure for destroying the very machinery on which the right hon. Gentleman had been dilating with so much satisfaction. The plan might not, indeed, be as the hon. and learned Gentleman who last spoke anticipated—a plan for knocking out the brains of the existing Court of Directors; but until it had been proved that the existing system was far more injurious than any writer or maker of speeches had yet proved it to be, the House would not, he thought, be justified in making such an alteration as his right hon. Friend proposed. But the Amendment of the noble Lord was one to which he could still less assent. If adopted, it would leave uncertain everything which now existed, because it amounted, in effect, to a provisional measure for continuing for three years, at the utmost, the existing state of things. Was it to be supposed, though there was not what was called a public opinion in India, that, with the existence there of a free press and of free discussion, there would be no agitation created and continued by any Bill which did not finally settle the government of India? For his own part, he should deprecate any such delay, not merely as being injurious to the objects stated by the hon. Member for Kidderminster, but because he believed that delay would be eminently disadvantageous to the peace and tranquillity of the people of India. India was pre-eminently an empire of opinion—an opinion on the part of the native population which conceded the superiority of the Saxon race in intellect, in arms, and in moral character; and, when the discussions in this House as to the future government of India were left to be renewed so frequently as they were likely to be if this Amendment were adopted, it would tend to weaken the confidence of the native mind in the general stability of our institutions; and no- 658 thing but a most urgent cause would justify him, at least, in consenting to such a postponement. Such an urgent cause he had not seen or heard proved. No man could rise in the House and say that more evidence was required, when, by the proposition adopted in March last, at Charles-street, sufficient evidence was stated to exist to justify them in coming to a conclusion. If that was so, the same evidence was amply sufficient to justify the House in coming to an opposite conclusion. But he found the same words almost taken as the text of the Manchester petition presented some time ago, which said that "abundant evidence" had been adduced to prove that, under the British rule the progress of the people in industry and in wealth had been retarded, the administration of justice had been defective, the mode of taxation oppressive, public works neglected, and that altogether the people of India had been left in a state of misery disgraceful to their rulers. If the evidence was sufficient to justify them in coming to these conclusions, it must, he apprehended, be sufficient to justify others in forming theirs. Now the allegations of the Manchester petition were, in his opinion, contradicted by the evidence then before the House, and certainly they had been refuted entirely by the evidence I subsequently obtained. What were the remedies of the petitioners for grievances so astounding? First, the thorough reform of the Home Government. Now, once for all, he said that, though his right hon. Friend had divided the subjects of inquiry submitted to the Committee last year under eight classes, two only were, in his opinion, essential for the foundation of any measure. He believed their first and principal duty was to establish a good form of government; and, having done that, it might safely be left to its own natural energies to carry out the administration. Substantially, we had had the report of the House of Commons Indian Committee; for last year, before the close of the Session, that Committee had fairly given a general sanction to the present system of government; and they had the report of the Lords Committee, which went still further. He (Sir E. H. Inglis) saw, therefore, no reason to wait as proposed. The real cause for regret was, that the present system and its continuance had not been brought before the attention of Parliament at an earlier period; for he firmly believed that, if, three years ago, the President of the Board of Control had brought in a Bill for the continuance of the 659 present system of government for twenty years, such a measure would have been received—he would not say without a dissentient voice—but with as large a measure of unanimity as any measure involving Interests at all commensurate with this could be expected to receive. His deliberate conviction was, that there was time to legislate; and he believed, that after the subject had been treated so fully by the witnesses who had been examined before the Committees of the two Houses, they had ample materials for discussion and decision. He believed the Home Government had been tried, and had not been found wanting. But, when he came to the consideration of other subjects connected with India, he was met at once with such a host Of evidence against the conclusions come to in the Manchester petition, that he should have no difficulty, if it were necessary, to refer to twenty different witnesses to prove that the condition of the people of India was totally the reverse of that which was there described as its character. He happened to have recently read a letter from a missionary, describing the state of the Punjaub —the newest acquisition of the East India Company—which was so favourable to the system under which it was administered that it at least raised a presumption that all the population of India could not be said to be in a state of distress and ruin "disgraceful to their rulers." The writer first referred to our own people—British-born subjects—of whom he said—It does one good to see so many men of talent and rank, all intent on their work, and all alive, and progressing onward, and sparing no labour, of either body or mind, to perform their end. Everything here is on the alert. Men are on their Arab horses, and off, at a moment's notice, anywhere, add at a rate that would terrify some in England. Others go out and spend six months at a time in tents, and think nothing of either the hot sun by day or the cold frosts by night, as they travel along, administering justice from town to town. They have sometimes to leave a station at a week's notice, and, selling off all, go to a distant part of the country. And if men gladly do all these things as soldiers or rulers, surely we ought not to be behind in a better cause. They seem here to have their eyes open to everything that is going on in the whole country—making roads and canals, erecting bridges, settling the revenue, building cantonments, planting trees, and looking into the minutiae of everything. But we want more men, for the Members of the Government are doing all they possibly can to encourage us, and probably there are few countries where such an opening presents itself.That was one passage; he would read another:—Looking at the state of the country politically, 660 we think there is a remarkable opening for the ministers of the gospel. As perfect peace and good order reign in the whole extent of the Punjaub as in any part of England. We see nothing to deter any prudent, faithful man from travelling about in all parts, or settling in any one place, and preaching the gospel of salvation fully, and, in doing so, holding up to just condemnation all the false systems by which the people are held bound of Satan. Much more, we think there is not only a wholesome fear, but a just respect, for the Englishman. The Government of the country have done much to establish this state of things. The governing board are well known for their high principles, and their spirit and example pervade all the officers of Government, who seem to have been selected for energy, talent, habits of business, and upright character. The rapidity of the improvements in the country is really wonderful. A few years have done the work of an age in the Punjaub; and the people, feeling perfect security for life and property, and a strong reliance upon the administration of justice, are freed from all petty oppression, and, in the full exercise of industrious pursuits, are not only contented, but happy.He (Sir R. Inglis) was one of those who believed that this empire over 150,000,000 of persons, occupying the fairest portion of Central Asia, had not been intrusted to us for purposes of mere selfish gratification, and for the mere accumulation of fortunes by those who Went out to that country; but that empire had, he humbly trusted and believed, been confided to us for higher ends, and he believed we should best consult the glory of God and the good of the people of India by extending, not merely a wise and liberal toleration to those who professed our common faith, but by giving them every encouragement possible. One of the defects of the Bill was, that it did not provide for the extension of that religious care which we owed to our fellow -subjects in India. He did not ask them to do anything against those who worshipped in idolatry; he asked only that they should exert no influence in its support, and should remove from those professing our common Christianity the hindrances to which they were at present subjected. Whatever were his objections to the Bill, however, when he had to decide between a measure which might be remedied in Committee and an Amendment which postponed all legislation, he had no hesitation in giving his vote against that Amendment. In Committee they might, and he trusted they would, adopt improvements in the Bill, by fixing, in the first place, a period for the duration of the Company's powers, by severing the connexion between Her Majesty's Government, whoever they might be, and the patronage of the East India 661 Company; and, in the next place, by providing against the limitation of the independent action of the Board of Directors, by interfering with the position of those who were at present members of the Court. What was the magic in the number eighteen, as contrasted with the number twenty-four? Then, with respect to the argument used, that we were now dealing with India on different terms from those on which we were dealing with India in 1833, he contended there was no difference whatever. The proposition in the year 1833, was simply to destroy the monopoly of the China trade then enjoyed by the Company; but, with that exception, there was nothing in the present condition of the East India Company, in its Home or Indian Government, which was different to its condition in 1833. Seeing, therefore, no reason for changing any one of the propositions made and adopted in 1833, and believing that, under the combined influence of a wise Government at home, and the most remarkable and admirable Government which the history of the world presented in India, similar results would flow from the continuance of the system as had hitherto characterised it, he, at least, though he should vote against the Amendment which postponed all legislation for two or three years, and so far should vote in favour of the Bill, which might be amended in Committee; and in urging those Amendments, he should generally endeavour to assist the maintenance of that system which was established in 1833.
§ MR. BAILLIE
said, it was not his intention to enter into the controversy urged so warmly on both sides the House as to the past administration of India; not that, had he been so disposed, it would have been difficult for him to have dressed up a case either favourable or unfavourable to the present system. Of this they had had a remarkable instance when the Bill was introduced. On that occasion two distinguished advocates appeared before them. One, the right hon. President of the Board of Control (Sir Charles Wood), who drew a glowing picture of all the advantages and the benefits India had derived from the acts of our Government; while the other, the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) placed before them all the evils and the miseries which the people of India had suffered under what he called that ill-constructed system. Both were masters of the subject, both supported their preposltions by evidence it was impossible 662 to dispute. The difference was, that in the case of the right hon. Baronet all the evils of the existing system were emitted to be noticed; whilst in the case of the hon. Gentleman all the good of the existing system was studiously suppressed. He should not follow the example of either; but should confine his attention to the Bill before them for the reconstruction of the Government of India. The House Was aware that in 1833 great and important changes were made in the Government of India; that the Bill which was passed on that subject was avowedly an experiment. The time for its reconsideration had now arrived, and he, for one, thought it due to the vast population of India, that all doubt and uncertainty as to their future destiny should cease; that Parliament should be prepared as soon as possible to legislate for their future government, and that the people of India should as soon as possible understand what the form of that government was to be. It would be most desirable that this question should be settled during the present Session; but it was most desirable also, that when the question was settled, our legislation should partake of something of a permanent character. Now, was any one prepared to assert that this Bill proposed by the Government did partake of any permanent character? Did not the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe) say that he thought it desirable that the people of India should have the power of altering their constitution, and that they should be placed in the same position as the people of the Colonies?—
§ MR. BAILLIE
had no wish to misrepresent the hon. and learned Gentleman, but he certainly understood him to express an opinion to that effect. He (Mr. Baillie) admitted the inconvenience of delay, and felt the uneasiness which prolonged doubt and uncertainty would create in India; but he would ask whether it would not be an evil worse than inconvenience, if a general feeling should prevail in this country as well as in India that the Government had forced their crude legislation on the House at a late period of the Session, without waiting even for the reports of their own Committees, and without, he feared, that mature deliberation which the vast importance of the subject imperatively required. The case would have been different if the Government had come forward and said 663 that they did not think any great or important change in the administration of India necessary. That did not appear to he their opinion; and he frankly confessed he believed it was not the opinion of the House; and in fact he believed it to be the general conviction that very much greater changes in the Home Government of India than were proposed by the Government measure were necessary. If that were so, surely the demand for a temporary delay on the part of those who felt the deep responsibility attaching to them could not be deemed unreasonable or unjust. The hon. and learned Member for Kidderminster had referred to the Committee which reported during the last Session of Parliament, and he stated that the Committee had introduced a clause into their report which justified legislation. He certainly did not undervalue that report; hut the Committee had only reported on one of the eight branches of the inquiry submitted to them —on that branch, namely, which referred to the authorities and agencies for administering the Government of India at home and in India. In that report the Committee expressed a favourable opinion on the method of governing India by a Board of Directors acting under the control of the Crown; but they expressed no opinion whatever as to the future government of India, or whether any alterations or reforms were required in the present system. This omission could only be attributed to the fact that the Committee were of opinion that the subject had not been sufficiently investigated. That was precisely what they expressed in their report. The Committee was quite aware of the faults and defects of the existing system, of the inconvenience and awkwardness of the double form of government, and of the delay occasioned by it; but they were compelled to admit that practically the system had worked well, indeed much better than perhaps might have been expected. But, if that Committee had supposed that their report would have been alleged as a reason why the House ought to proceed to legislation, then he could not doubt that the Committee would have been prepared to enter into further explanations, and to have pointed out those evils which Parliament might have remedied without much disturbance of the existing system—evils which, when the subject came to be investigated, could no longer remain. If the House was to proceed to legislate for the future government, they ought clearly to 664 understand what it was they were called upon to do. As he understood, they were invited by Government to legislate for the reconstruction of the Home Government of India, leaving to that authority, when reconstructed, in conjunction with the administrative Government, the power to make all those changes and alterations which might be thought necessary. If that were so, it was manifest that their first consideration was the selection of those who were to govern the country. Virtually, the East India Directors were the governors of India. It was often said that they had no real power, because they acted under the control of a Minister of the Crown. It might be quite true that wars had been entered into without their concurrence; but, as regarded the administration, they were virtually the governors, for they originated everything, regulated everything, and administered everthing. Under these circumstances it was essentially necessary for them to consider whether the prevailing system of election brought the best and most qualified persons into that position. In his opinion the contrary was too frequently the case. The Directors were elected by the proprietors of a peculiar description of East India Stock; the number of the constituency being about 1,700, the number of votes about 3,300. The constituents, many of them, had become possessed of their stock by inheritance, or as a mere investment. They resided at a distance, and were frequently indifferent on the subject of the elections. Hence it had become a practice among them to leave their proxies in the hands of their London bankers, who by this means obtained a very large share in the power and patronage of the Company. Many of the Loudon bankers held large numbers of proxies, and by acting together they could almost ensure the return of any candidate; and so powerful was that interest, that it had already six representatives in the direction. But this was not the worst part of the present system. There were others who took great interest in these elections—he meant gentlemen who went among their friends soliciting proxies for the election of new candidates. When a person of that description had collected fifteen or twenty proxies, he was in a position to stipulate with a candidate for appointments. This practice was carried on to a great extent. A friend of his was solicited by a gentleman who had collected sixty proxies for the express purpose of operating upon any 665 candidate who might come forward; and when the contest became close, it was generally understood that the candidate who was most lavish in his promises was sure to carry the election. One gentleman told him that he was beaten on one occasion, and that his opponent had been so lavish of his promises that all his patronage was pledged for twenty years to come. However the system might be glossed over, it was nothing more nor less than a system of bribery and corruption. Those who prided themselves so much on being the advocates of reform, ought to bring forward some measure for the reconstruction of the Home Government; and he was surprised that a Government which professed to base its title to support on its professions of reform should have allowed a system of this kind to remain in the measure which they proposed for the reconstruction of the Government of India. It could only be supposed that great statesmen were sometimes ignorant of what was going on in the world. He had no doubt the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord John Russell) was as ignorant of the mode in which these elections were conducted, as he was of the bribery and corruption which prevailed in the City at his first election; but he would tell the noble Lord, who was so ready to disfranchise Harwich, that bribery and corruption were not less degrading and injurious, because they might be carried on secretly, and veiled from the public eye. He could not see the particular merit of any kind of stock, that it ought to give to the ladies and gentlemen holding it the power of electing the governors of India. The question which they had now to consider was this: Did the system, such as it was, secure the election of the men best qualified to discharge the important duties entrusted to them? He emphatically said that it did not; and he would not only prove that it did not secure the services of such men, but that it deterred the best qualified men from seeking to be returned. What did Colonel Sykes, one of the most distinguished officers examined before the Committee, say with reference to the existing system?—Do you believe that the present system deters proper candidates from offering themselves to the proprietors for election?—I have no doubt about it.On what grounds do you entertain that opinion?—They will not condescend to undergo the ordeal of soliciting persons in various grades of life for a period of seven years, which was my 666 fate; and, moreover, men who have distinguished themselves in India come home at that late period of life that such a labour before them would amount to a very considerable physical inconvenience. There is also expense accompanying it; and, after all, there is the chance of being thrown out, and the whole labour lost. Many men have commenced a canvass, and have abandoned it.Do you consider that the change that was made by the last Act, of allowing proprietors to vote by proxy, has been beneficial, or otherwise? —I think it has been beneficial, on the principle that it enlarges the constituency, and therefore renders the action of knots of interests less influential.You stated that the expenditure of a candidate must be great; in what way is it great?—In travelling about the country, and in having committees; and a candidate is obliged to have a, permanent clerk to keep his books; the cost to me was 2,228l I was seven years about it.You have stated that your aggregate expense for a seven years' contest was 2,228l.; do you wish the Committee to understand that that expense was directed solely to paying a clerk, and hiring some rooms, and agency where necessary; or did it include the refreshments, continuing for a long time, of gentlemen who served on your Committee?—Only refreshments to my Committee at the time of the election; not at other periods.He would also refer to the evidence of another distinguished officer on the same point, Mr. William Wilberforce Bird, who said, in reply to the question—What situations have you filled in India?— I arrived in India in 1803, and after passing through the college I was appointed to Benares, where I remained about a dozen years in the judicial department; in 1821 I was appointed to the special commission at Cawnpore and Allahabad, for revising sales of land, brought about by undue influence; after that I came to the Presidency, and was appointed to the Resumption Commission. I then became a Member of the Board of Revenue, and was subsequently appointed to the Board of Customs, Salt, and Opium; I then succeeded to Council; and while in Council I was four or five times Deputy Governor of Bengal. I became also President of the Council; and I held the office of Governor General from the time of Lord Ellenborough's recall till the arrival of Lord Hardinge.As you, from your long and eminent service in India, are probably acquainted with the feelings of the civil members of the East India Company's service, can you state your opinion whether the mode of election and canvass for Directors in this country deters them from being ambitious of that honour?—I cannot answer for others; but with regard to myself, I can say that I have been deterred from offering myself for the direction by the immense time that it takes to canvass, and by the difficulty that, at my advanced period of life, I should have experienced in obtaining a seat; and I suppose that the same feeling animates a number of others, though not all.He could give a long list of distinguished men who had been in the same manner deterred from offering themselves; but did not think it necessary to do so; he might, 667 however, mention Sir G. Anderson, the Governor of Ceylon, who wished to enter the Directory, and had made all the preparations for a canvass, when his courage failed him. He thought, then, that he had shown that the system under which the Directors were elected was most unsatisfactory; and, moreover, if they were about to legislate for the permanent government of India, they ought to devise some different mode of election, because the present machinery was only of a temporary nature. The Bill of 1833 provided that the East India Government should have the power, at the expiration of forty years, of paying off the stock, and thus putting an end to the constituency; and probably, at the expiration of that period, the sinking fund would enable them to do so. Supposing the present constituency to be extinguished in that manner, some other system must be provided, and why should not that be done now, when the whole system of government was under consideration? He thought it possible to form a much better constituency, and to introduce other elements into the Court of Proprietors. Retired civil and military officers of twenty years' standing might be introduced with great advantage into the constituency. But if he were told that such an alteration was impracticable, then he would infinitely prefer the nomination of the Directors by the responsible Minister of the Crown, to continuing the existing system. The objection to the nomination by the Crown was, that it would make the Directors subservient. But were they not subservient to the Crown at the present time? The fact was, that the President of the Board of Control could compel them to do as he thought proper. It had been said that such nomination would give increased patronage to the Crown. There could be no doubt of that. But had not all the great law reforms given increased patronage to the Crown, especially the County Courts Bill? Certain conditions might be imposed on the choice of Directors. One-half of them might be selected from the officers of the Indian Government —men of twenty years' standing, whose experience would be most advantageous in the management of the affairs of the Company. He now came to the question of patronage. Under the existing system the Directors did not receive any salaries worthy of consideration, but they had a large amount of patronage, which they 668 naturally regarded as payment in lieu of salary; it was, therefore, not surprising that they should consider themselves entitled to deal with that patronage as they might think proper. He should be sorry to say a word against the manner in which the present Court had exercised their patronage. He was only surprised that it had been so well administered, and that much stronger complaints had not been made. Some of the Directors retained a. portion of their patronage to provide for the families of persons dying in the service. That was noble and patriotic conduct, and a sacrifice of their private interests to public duty, and it was the more meritorious seeing that there were other Directors who made a different use of their patronage, and it was known that many men had obtained seats in that House by the distribution of patronage of that description. Now, what was the remedy proposed by the Government? Why, that all the most valuable patronage should be placed in the hands of the Crown. He could not conceive it possible that any Government could be well conducted when deprived of all patronage, and of all the means of supporting its public servants. He had no objection to a certain portion of these appointments being given to our great educational establishment; but he thought a certain portion of them ought to be held by the Court of Directors, and distributed by them in their corporate capacity,' and not as private individuals as at present. Then, with respect to the cadetships, he thought these appointments more than the Directors were entitled to, and he would withdraw one-half of the patronage in the Army, and place it in the hands of the Commander-in-Chief at the Horse Guards, with the distinct understanding that it should not be used for political purposes, but exercised as a solemn trust for the benefit of the community. This would be, he was persuaded, a more satisfactory distribution of patronage than at present existed. He thought it most desirable that the people of India should understand the form of government under which they were living. The native princes, the native troops, and the native population all imagined that they owed allegiance to the East India Company. The Company was the only recognised sovereignty in India, The name of Her Majesty was studiously ignored, and the government was carried on under the fiction of a supposed Company, which virtually ceased to exist in 1833. 669 Now, that was a monstrous delusion. It was not less humiliating to the people to India, than insulting to the Queen. It was a state of things which ought no longer to endure. Means should be taken to carry on the government of India in the name of the Queen, and Her Majesty ought to be proclaimed in every city of that vast empire as Queen of India. The native princes and native troops would feel it less galling to their pride to acknowledge themselves as tributaries and vassals to a great and powerful Sovereign, than to a supposed body of English merchants; and the troops would feel a just pride in being allowed to assume the title of the Royal Indian Army instead of that of the Honourable East India Company's Service, which lowered them in their own estimation. But it was not only in India that this system of mystification was carried on. The Board of Control in this country was a delusion; and Lord Broughton once most truly told a Committee of the House of Commons that he, in person, was the Board of Control. Let the people of India clearly understand that Her Majesty had assumed the sovereignty of the country, and had appointed a Minister to preside over it. It was true that these were but nominal changes; but they would serve to convince the people of India that Her Majesty was not indifferent to their welfare, but felt proud of being the Sovereign of so vast an empire. He did not ask the Government to make any rash or violent change—he did not ask them to uproot or destroy the existing system, which, whatever might be its faults or anomalies, had been instrumental in raising a most splendid monument to the glory of this country. Upon the wisdom of our legislation it would depend whether that monument should be preserved, or whether, in a few years, its shattered fragments should alone remain as a melancholy example of the instability of fortune, and of the uncertainty of all sublunary things.
§ MR. HERRIES
said, that the question before the House was, in the first place, the second reading of the Bill for the regulation of the Government of India; but between their decision upon that point had been introduced a Motion, supported with great ability by his noble Friend the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley), the object of which was to induce the House to abstain from any legislation at the present time. In what a position would the House be placed if they agreed to this Amendment? His noble Friend had, in- 670 deed, in the course of his speech considerably modified the difficulty in which they would otherwise have found themselves placed, by pointing out that he contemplated the passing of an Act to continue the measure of 1833, which was now in operation. But he had not told them whether there was any Resolution before the House which would thus relieve them from the difficulty in which they would be placed by agreeing to his Motion; and under these circumstances he (Mr. Herries) could not support a proposition which was calculated to create so much embarrassment. The Act at present in operation by which the Government of India was carried on by the East India Company, would expire in April, 1844; there was no prospect, nay, he would say, no possibility, of their framing a new system of government as the result of further information, if that were necessary, between the present period and April, 1854; and Parliament would, therefore, have in that case no alternative but to continue the present system under circumstances of the greatest difficulty and pressure. Under these circumstances, the Amendment appeared to him to be vague and unsatisfactory in every respect. It then became a question whether he should agree to the Bill or not? And this question, he must confess, presented a very great difficulty. There were parts of the Bill in which he was unable to concur; and if he were told that these provisions of the Bill might be considered in Committee, and might either be agreed to or rejected, or modified, until the Bill met the views he entertained, he confessed he felt some reluctance in encountering the difficulties which would be attendant on this course. But still, of the two alternatives, he was bound to say that he would rather encounter the difficulty of mending the Bill before the House in Committee, so as to render it one under which the Government of India might be efficiently conducted, than he would incur the responsibility of agreeing to the Resolution of his noble Friend, which must throw all things into confusion, and greatly embarrass the Government in their endeavour to legislate, and might perhaps en-danger our Indian empire. Allusion had been made to the inquiry into Indian affairs which was now going on. It was his duty to bring that subject before the House in the beginning of 1852. In doing so he only took the course which had been determined upon by the preceding Admin- 671 istration: indeed, on entering office, he found upon the notice-book of the House a Motion for the appointment of a Committee of very much the same character as that which he afterwards proposed. In the appointment of that Committee he endeavoured to select for its Members the ablest men on both sides of the House. When the Committee was appointed, consisting of some of the ablest and most competent men on both sides of the House, he asked the hon. Member for Huntingdon to preside over it; and all those Gentlemen who had attended the inquiries of the Committee would bear their testimony to the manner in which that hon. Member had justified his selection. He also proposed to the Committee that division of subjects of inquiry which had been often adverted to, and which he thought indicated an honest intention to make the fullest inquiry into this important subject. Notwithstanding what some persons deemed the short time that was allowed for the inquiries of the Committee, he confessed he entertained the hope that they would have been able to complete them and to make a Report to the House in sufficient time for them to legislate during the present Session; and, in fact, it was only the extreme patience, perseverance, and attention of the Committee that had so far protracted their inquiries as to prevent them proceeding with more than three of the heads into which the inquiry was divided. But those three heads were of the utmost importance. They embraced the subject of the authorities and agencies for administering the government of India at home, which was, in point of fact, the very subject that the House was then considering; that of the naval and military establishments, and that of the income and expenditure. The revenue system, which was a most important point, had also been largely inquired into. There remained for consideration, indeed, the subjects of the judicial system, and of the measures to be taken for the education of the people—both, no doubt, very important, but not necessary to be inquired into before they legislated with respect to the Government of India, as they might very well be dealt with by subsequent Acts of Parliament. When his noble Friend said that further information was necessary, he (Mr. Herries) would ask them what information that was necessary had they any chance of acquiring before they proceeded to legislate? If they waited one, two, or three years more, 672 as the noble Lord suggested, he believed they would still be in the same position they were in now, and would still be told by some persons that further information was necessary. The brief question for the House was, had the Government of the East India Company, upon the whole, succeeded? The House would permit him, considering the station he had occupied, to offer a few observations upon the many topics that had been touched upon with regard to the Government of India. All the blame and ridicule were cast upon the double government. It had been made the scapegoat for all the calamities that had befallen, and all the abuses that had prevailed in, India. It was accused of squandering in useless wars revenues which should have been appropriated to public works. The charge was altogether unfounded. Neither the Board of Control, nor the Court of Directors, were responsible for wars undertaken in India. In discussing this question, persons were apt to overlook the Government in India, which was the most important part of the system by which the affairs of that mighty empire were administered. The two wars which ended in the annexation of the Punjaub, the war of Scinde, that which ended in the reduction of Gwalior to obedience, and even the war of Affghanistan, had certainly not originated either with the Court of Directors or the Board of Control. The initiative had in all these cases been taken by the Government in India, acting in the exercise of that authority which must be vested in them for the rule of that great empire. He believed that the double government— the result, in some degree, of chance— which had grown out of circumstances previously existing, and which had to be moulded by time and by the wisdom of our predecessors, was the best fitted for the administration of Indian affairs that it was possible to construct. In 1830, the Duke of Wellington and the Earl of Ellenbo-rough, looking forward to the changes that would have to be made in 1833, on the expiration of the India Company's Charter, met the "chairs" of the Company to consult with them as to the future government of that great empire. Those statesmen did not then question the value of the double government, but proposed to (Continue it in the same form in which it had been settled in 1784—a form which had been approved by four successive Committees of Inquiry, The desire of the Com- 673 pany to promote the welfare of the Indian population was shown by the following extract from a despatch addressed to the Supreme Government of India in December, 1834:—In contemplating the extent of legislative power conferred on our Supreme Government— in reflecting how many millions of men may, by the manner in which it shall in the present instance be exercised, be rendered happy or miserable—in adverting to the countless variety of interests to be studied and of difficulties to be overcome in the execution of this mighty trust, we own that we feel oppressed by the weight of the responsibility under which we arc conjointly laid. Whatever means or efforts can be employed on the occasion—whatever can be effected by free and active discussion, or by profound and conscientious deliberation—whatever aids can be derived from extrinsic counsel or intelligence—all, at the utmost, will be barely commensurate with the magnitude of the sphere to be occupied, and of the service to he performed. We feel confident that to this undertaking your best thoughts and care will be immediately and perseveringly applied; and we invite the full, the constant, and the early communication of your sentiments in relation to it. On our part, we can venture to affirm that no endeavour shall be wanting in promoting your views and in perfecting your plans. And we trust that, by the blessing of Divine Providence on our united labours, the just and beneficent intentions of the country, in delegating to our hands the legislative as well as the executive administration of the mightiest, the most important of its transmarine possessions, will be happily accomplished.The witnesses who had been examined before the Committee had borne most satisfactory testimony with regard to the general administration of Indian affairs, and to the desire which had been manifested by the Indian Government to improve the condition of the people of India. He would read to the House a statement which was, he thought, a complete answer to the charges of mismanagement which were urged against the East India Company. This was an extract of a letter from Mr. Thomason, Lieutenant Governor of the North-Western Provinces, who said, in 1852—I have just marched to this place along the strip of country reaching from the Sutlej to the Jumna by Hansi and Hissar. You must remember that country when it was inhabited by a wild and lawless set of people, whom no one could manage. Native chiefs would not take the land as a gift. Our own troops were frequently repulsed by the communities of Rangurs and Bhuttees, and others, who lived in large fortified villages, and subsisted by plunder. Now, the country is thickly inhabited, and well cultivated, and the most peaceful possible. This year the khurreef has failed entirely, and very little rubba has been sown, and yet the revenue has been paid up without a balance, and has occasioned no perceptible 674 distress. I received, as I always do, hundreds of petitions daily on plain paper. The general complaints were regarding their rights in land. A few only, and that at the end of my journey, contained complaints regarding the severity of the season. This is the effect of firm rule and of light assessment. Mr. R. Bird (all honour to his name) insisted at the late settlement on a considerable reduction of assessment. The consequence is, that land, which before was worthless now bears a high value, and a people who were before lawless now yield implicit obedience to the laws. It is a cheap government, of which the strength consists in low taxation.It appeared that since the passing of the Act of 1833 the imports had increased, and the exports had been more than doubled. The colleges established by the British Government for the education of the natives had been increased from fourteen in 1835 to forty in 1852. The formation of railways had been commenced, and efforts were made to cause the introduction of capital from England for that purpose, and for the construction of public works. The electric telegraph had been introduced, and a gentleman of great experience (Dr. O'Shaughnessy) having been sent to this country from India to confer with them on the subject, had received the most prompt attention from the Board of Control. He contended, therefore, that the Government of India had always manifested an earnest desire to promote the welfare and happiness of the inhabitants of that portion of our empire. He was inclined to agree with the Government in voting for the second reading of the Bill; but when the House got into Committee upon it, he should endeavour to introduce such alterations as he conceived were necessary in order to fit it for being a permanent provision for the government of India, and in particular he should endeavour, if the Bill got into Committee, to expunge all those clauses which related to the new constitution of the Court of Directors.
§ On the Motion of Mr. HUME, Debate adjourned till To-morrow.